Discover the 7 shocking health benefits of licorice root.
The health benefits of licorice root have become synonymous with a strong caramel flavor, but the herb itself, Glycyrrhiza glabra, has very different strengths.
An adaptogenic herb, licorice root can be found growing in Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia, and has been used for thousands of years and dozens of purposes, including as a leaky gut remedy.
If licorice root benefits so many conditions, why do we only think of it as a caramel flavoring? What is DGL licorice root and do I need to buy special licorice root supplements?
Let’s go through the story, use and question the surrounding licorice root. This ancient herb has a lot to offer. Licorice is a household name in candy, but it’s time that licorice root became famous for its benefits.
Licorice is a member of the legume family, and while there are species that grow in the US, Glycyrrhiza glabra is primarily native to Europe and Asia. Also, you may see “Chinese licorice” on products.
Licorice root benefits are mainly the same between the two varieties; However, it is worth noting that glabra is generally the variety referred to when talking about licorice root.
Glycyrrhiza’s name reflects her best-known fame: “sweet root.” With an extract that can be 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar, we can see why our ancestors were inspired to make it sweet.
In Chinese medicine, the licorice root antiinflammatory has been used for centuries for many of the same uses as science has now confirmed: coughs and colds, gastrointestinal problems, and female reproductive problems.
An interesting note about the way licorice has been used in Chinese medicine is that it was used as a “guide drug.”
Licorice root was used in conjunction with other herbs and remedies to enhance their effects and essentially guide the other herbs where they would be most beneficial!
This ancient purpose, along with other licorice root benefits, no doubt contributed to the fact that licorice root licorice was the most widely used herb in Chinese medicine!
Europeans also did not ignore the benefits of licorice root as a supplement. Licorice root has documented uses from ancient times, from ancient Greece and Rome to the Middle Ages and beyond.
In the 20 th century, the manufacture allowed root to be stripped for pharmaceutical uses and then extracted caramel sweetener.
Now that familiar strong licorice flavor is usually replicated by the similarly flavored anise seed (a common biblical herb ), but you can still get genuine licorice candies, usually “black licorice” to distinguish it from the red imitation candy.
The medicinal strength and benefits of licorice root are prominent enough that the FDA has issued an advisory to let consumers know that black licorice is more than just a sweet.
Even when the root extract is used only for sweetening, it cannot be ignored as a potent compound.
And while the root is the main part used for supplements and remedies, the leaves have also been evaluated for their antimicrobial benefits.
In one study, the leaves performed well against bacteria and therefore can function as cured staph and candida.
When looking at the various compounds in licorice and their clear benefits, it is not surprising that this ancient herb has endured through the centuries!
Just a few indications for licorice root include heartburn, bowel loss, adrenal fatigue, PMS, and pain relief.
These kinds of conditions are prominent in our society. It would be very difficult to find someone who is not affected by one (or more!) Of these conditions.
Heartburn is a facet of gastrointestinal disorders that Americans spend $ 90 billion (!) To remedy, every year. Let’s take a quick look at each of these common conditions and how licorice root benefits them.
An extract from the licorice root was found to be effective against functional dyspepsia, which includes not only heartburn but also a natural remedy for nausea, indigestion, and stomach pain.
The type used for the study was DGL licorice, which left participants with no negative side effects associated with glycyrrhizin. DGL can be purchased as chewable tablets that can be taken before meals.
Tied to systemic health problems, leaky gut syndrome can be difficult to tackle. As an anti-inflammatory and demulcent (calming) herb, licorice root works as a natural remedy for ulcers and can be a beneficial supplement for the respiratory tract.
Despite living in a relatively simple time in history, our society is plagued with environmental, physical, and mental stress disorders.
Many of us have sent our adrenal glands into overdrive like we’re running from woolly mammoths when we’re dealing with a budget problem or decision at work.
Licorice was found to help the body more efficiently regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, which gives the adrenal glands a breather.
It turns out that it is one of the main adaptogen herbs to help improve the stress response.
Licorice is emerging as a leading player in the search for treatment and prevention of diseases such as hepatitis C, HIV, and the flu.
The triterpenoid content has been confirmed as an antiviral, making licorice extract a potentially strong partner for the immune system.
One study described licorice as having “antioxidant, radical scavenger, and immunostimulating” properties.
Licorice root benefits a sore throat or cough immensely as an effective expectorant, helping to loosen and expel the mucus that a cough is trying to remove.
Its soothing, demulcent, and anti-inflammatory properties can provide quick relief from a sore throat.
Demulcents need to make contact with the part of the body that needs to be soothed, so extracts in cough drops and syrups, as well as tea, are more effective.
Licorice root also appears to have an estrogen-like effect on women, lending itself as an option for menstruation and fertility concerns, even as a natural remedy for PMS.
For treating menopause, licorice is better than hormone replacement therapy in reducing the duration of hot flashes.
As an antispasmodic, licorice can affect both abdominal and potentially muscle cramps.
Topically, licorice can ease the discomfort of eczema and other skin conditions, as it acts like hydrocortisone.
The anti-inflammatory benefits can also help relieve pain, even acting as a natural remedy for joint pain.
Licorice root side effects are mostly related to glycyrrhizin, so if any of these are of concern to you, DGL
licorice is probably the best option. Never consume licorice root extract if you are pregnant, as it may increase the risk of premature labor or miscarriage, or if you have heart, liver, or kidney problems.
Some evidence suggests that taking licorice in supplement form may have estrogen-like effects on conditions sensitive to female hormones (breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids) and should not be taken by people with such diseases.
It can also worsen hypertonia (a muscle condition caused by nerve disease), potassium deficiency (hypokalemia), or erectile dysfunction.
If you consume licorice root extract, the recommended dose is a maximum of six grams per day when used for a 130-pound person to limit the amount of glycyrrhizin.
Side effects to watch out for include edema, high blood pressure, low potassium levels, and chronic fatigue.
Also, stop taking licorice root two weeks before surgery, as it can interfere with blood pressure control during surgical procedures.
While licorice root extract should not be taken for more than 1-3 months in a row, DGL licorice can be taken long term.
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