What is Licorice?
Licorice root or liquorice comes from the Glycyrrhiza plant species and is valued for its rich flavor. It derives from Greek, glycyrrhiza which means ‘sweet root’. This herb is native to Southern Europe and Asia and is referred to as ‘sweet root’, attributing to a component called glycyrrhizin present in its root which is much sweeter than sugar. It has been appreciated in the traditional Chinese system of medicine for thousands of years and is referred to as “the peacemaker” herb. It is one of the most widely consumed herbs across the world and is currently grown in Russia, Spain, France, England, Germany, the Middle East and Asia.
Licorice root herb has a wide range of health benefits. The health benefits of licorice include relief from canker sores, stomach disorders, respiratory ailments, premenstrual syndrome, peptic ulcers, menopausal symptoms and it helps in fighting various kinds of infections such as herpes, HIV, hepatitis, and shingles.
It is also effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, tuberculosis, neurological disorders, female fertility, and obesity, while also helping to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. Licorice extracts contain phytoestrogens, which promote detoxification, healthy skin and hair, dental health, and immune defense. Furthermore, it helps to combat body odor and depression.
Licorice is a woody-stemmed perennial herb that grows to about 1-2 meters. The long and wrinkled roots of licorice branch horizontally and spread out under the ground. Along with its use in food, it is also valued for its diverse medicinal benefits for providing longevity and vitality since ancient times.
Licorice Nutrition Facts
Licorice offers a wide range of beneficial nutrients and flavonoids. It is a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin E (tocopherol). It also provides minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, choline, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, silicon and zinc. It is a storehouse of essential phytonutrients, including beta-carotene, glycyrrhizin, glabridin, isoliquiritigenin, thymol, phenol, ferulic acid, and quercetin.
Here are the health benefits of Licorice
Licorice is a time-honored remedy and is amongst the most extensively utilized and scientifically studied botanical healers. Benefits of licorice for health conditions include the following:
1. Aphthous Ulcers or Canker Sores
Licorice has been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of painful recurrent aphthous ulcers, also known as canker sores. Canker sores are small, non-contagious lesions that crop up on the tissues inside the mouth and gums. Studies have shown that treatment with licorice extract has resulted in significant improvement in the condition of the subjects with respect to reduction in both pain and inflammation. The beneficial constituents of licorice help in accelerating the healing and aids in the stimulation of the body’s immune defense mechanism.
2. Liver Protection
Generally licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is effective in the treatment of liver disorders by reducing toxicity and helps in stabilizing the normal functional condition of the liver. The flavonoid isoliquiritigenin, present in licorice, possesses antioxidant and inhibitory qualities which help in protecting the liver cells from high-fat, diet-induced injuries and the damage caused by oxidative stress.
3. Stomach Disorders
The glycyrrhizic acid that is present in licorice can provide protection against the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria and it can also exert therapeutic effects in curing the symptoms of dyspepsia or impaired digestion.
4. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Licorice extracts possess anti-inflammatory properties and that have been proven to be effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Research has indicated that it may be beneficial in reducing the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and also for providing relief from pain and swelling.
5. Menopause and Premenstrual Syndrome
The phytoestrogenic and antioxidant properties of licorice root is thought to be useful for hormonal problems including exhaustion, mood swings, and hot flashes in women who are going through menopause. Consequently, ingesting just one capsule of licorice root daily can help balance and control a woman’s hormone production if she happens to be going through menopause.
6. Prevents Cancer
Licorice possesses chemopreventive effects and is beneficial in the treatment of various types of cancer. It contains anti-proliferative effects that helps in restricting the growth of human breast cancer cells. It contains flavonoids such as isoliquiritigenin, which helps in suppressing colon carcinogenesis and induces apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. Licorice contains anti-tumor activities which are effective in reducing the toxicity that is generally induced by chemotherapy drugs and inhibits the production of tumor cells. Licorice extracts are also helpful in treating chronic prostatitis and prostate cancer.
7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Licorice is useful in preventing the malfunction of the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the production of hormones such as cortisol to manage stress in the body and help in improving its overall function. Excess consumption of licorice should be avoided. It is considered effective in people who have been prescribed steroids for a long time to counter the suppressive action of steroids on the adrenal glands. This also aids in stimulating the body’s resistance to stress, especially during the recovery phase after surgeries. Glycyrrhizinic acid present in it helps in feeling more energetic and reduces the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
8. Boosts Immunity
Licorice aids in improving the immune defense mechanism of the body. It also helps in elevating the levels of interferon, it contains an anti-viral agent which along with glycyrrhizinic acid, stimulates the action of immune cells and helps in combating the infectious viruses and bacteria such as influenza A.
9. Treats Tuberculosis
Licorice is effective in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis and also helps in reducing the length of the healing process. Antimycobacterial and antimicrobial action of the constituents present in it work well in the treatment of lung infections and also makes it an effective antitubercular agent.
10. Cures Infections
Licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which is effective in treating various viral, fungal and bacterial infections. An antiviral effect of licorice herb and its constituents helps in inhibiting the growth of herpes virus and preventing any further development of cancer. The infection-fighting property of licorice has been found beneficial in the treatment of shingles, which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
Licorice roots possess antioxidants, which are effective in maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol. The flavonoid glabridin, along with other beneficial components present in licorice, exert a beneficial effect in preventing the accumulation of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol and helps in reducing the risk of diseases like atherosclerosis.
12. Respiratory Disorder
Licorice contains few antioxidant properties, it is beneficial in treating sore throats, coughs, colds, bronchitis, and lung diseases like emphysema. It also provides relief from upper respiratory infections caused by viruses and bacteria. It works effectively as an expectorant and helps in expelling the mucus and other substances from the bronchi and lungs. This aids in the relaxation of bronchial spasms. The licorice is also helpful in reducing the constrictions in the airways and its beneficial effects in the treatment of asthma.
13. Treats HIV
Licorice is effective in treating HIV-related diseases. The glycyrrhizin that is generally present in its roots helps in inhibiting the proliferation of the infecting virus by encouraging the production of beta-chemokines. It also helps in preventing the destruction of white blood cells by the HIV virus and strengthens the immune mechanism of the body.
Licorice possesses laxative qualities and it also promotes the detoxification of both the colon and the blood supply. As you all know that the component dehydrogenase present in licorice extracts have been proven beneficial in the induction of phase-2 detoxification and antioxidant enzymes, which help the body in discarding harmful and poisonous toxic wastes.
15. Treats Obesity
Licorice extracts may also be effective in preventing obesity. The anti-obesity action of licorice flavonoid indicated a significant reduction in the presence of abdominal adipose tissues and triglycerides levels of the body.
16. Skin Care
Licorice root is an excellent skin healer and it is beneficial in the treatment of skin ailments such as eczema, athlete’s foot, and also psoriasis. It has antioxidant properties help in relieving the swelling and itching in such conditions as well. Licorice extracts have skin-lightening effects and also aid in providing protection against ultraviolet radiation-induced erythema, reducing inflammation and helping to improve persistent facial redness.
17. Hair Care
Licorice is a full packaged source of elements like choline, protein, Vitamin B. It also contains flavonoids, phytoestrogens, potassium, phosphorus, amines and essential oils. Licorice promotes the health of the scalp and also takes care of the hair because of all these elements.
Licorice is effective in maintaining healthy hair by reducing the oil secretion and preventing the occurrence of dandruff.
18. Reduces Depression
Licorice constituents in combating pre- and post-menopausal depression in women. It contains essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and beta-carotene, along with beneficial flavonoids that help in fighting depression.
19. Dental Health
Licorice extracts have been effective in the prevention and treatment of dental caries and gingivitis. The antimicrobial quality of deglycyrrhizinated licorice is beneficial against Streptococcus mutans and inhibits the formation of biofilms and dental plaques. Due to such protective antibacterial effects, licorice root extracts have been widely used in the manufacturing of oral hygiene products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes.
20. Cardiovascular Health
The antioxidant qualities of licorice extracts are effective in the prevention of cardiovascular stress in diabetic people. The flavonoid glabridin, which is present in licorice roots, helps in providing vascular protection under high glucose conditions, prevents the formation of plaques in the arteries, and stimulates the unobstructed flow of blood in diabetic patients.
21. Cognitive Function
The component amorfrutins that are present in licorice possess anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects that help to reduce the blood sugar, inhibit the development of insulin resistance, and prevent Type-2 diabetes.
The neuroprotective effect of glabridin in cases of diabetes. It helps in the prevention of cognitive impairment and assists in enhancing the learning and memory functions in diabetics.
Above all are the health benefits of using licorice. By consuming licorice root regularly you can get best results.