Licorice is a native plant of Southern Europe and also Asia. This is extensively used to flavor candies and tobacco products all over the world. And today, we are going to discuss everything that is important for us to know about this interesting plant. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Health Benefits of Licorice Root
There are many health benefits of licorice root and we are going to briefly discuss each one of them. Here we go.
1. Lowers Inflammation
Licorice extracts have been concluded to be anti-inflammatory after more than 90 studies done on animals and human cells.
It was found that licorice extracts help protect the body against diseases that were inflammatory and autoimmune. Dehydroglyasperin C, a licorice flavonoid, has the capacity to put a full stop to all major inflammatory activities in the brain and prevent neuron cell death.
2. Effective for Gut Inflammation & Ulcers
After a clinical trial on 120 people, Licorice was concluded to be a good adjunctive treatment for dealing with Helicobacter pylori.
It was found that Licorice got rid of H. pylori by almost 20%. Licorice also helped fight against symptoms of dyspepsia. There was a noticeable reduction in the number and size of stomach ulcers after treating the subject with licorice.
3. Menopausal Symptoms
When compared to Hormone Replacement Therapy, Licorice was found to be more effective in reducing hot flash duration. However, it had no visible effects on the severity of the hot flash.
4. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Licorice can significantly help in decreasing the cholesterol levels in your body and reduce the risk of running into any kind of heart problems.
Licorice consumption can decrease total cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol and blood pressure as well. However, there are more clinical trials that are needed to support the role of DGL in reducing the risk of getting a heart disease.
5. Cures PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS can be treated with licorice as the glycyrrhetinic acid present in it can reduce the testosterone levels while maintaining regular ovulation.
There are two more licorice metabolites, namely glabridin and glabrate, which tend to have estrogen-like effects. These can also help in treating PCOS.
6. Helpful in Fatigue
Licorice can play a crucial role in reducing the level of fatigue in athletes and might even help in maintaining energy levels.
Glabridin, which is extracted from Licorice, is known to reduce exercise-induced fatigue in mice. The study concluded that the more the extract was induced in the mice, the more they could swim without having to rest.
7. Helps in Weight Loss
Licorice flavonoid oil helps in weight loss by boosting fat oxidation while the person in subject indulges in light exercises. However, there has to be more definite research that needs to be done before reaching any solid conclusion.
8. Helps in Brain Protection
Licorice can help protect your brain in case it undergoes any stroke-related injury. Glabridin, a major flavonoid in licorice can significantly reduce brain damage and prevent nerve cell death.
Side Effects of Licorice Root
The side effects of licorice are as important as the benefits. Let’s discuss them one by one.
1. Increased Cortisol
Licorice can increase the cortisol levels in the body if taken in large doses. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone and is responsible for affecting the blood pressure and glucose levels in the body, in response to the stress-inflicting stimuli.
2. Increased Blood Pressure
When the cortisol levels in the body are high, it can contribute to high blood pressure as well. This can result in increased mineralocorticoids which eventually increase the blood pressure in the body. The increase in cortisol might even cause a condition like pseudo-hyperaldosteronism.
3. Affect Metabolism
There are many components of licorice that can slow down the drug metabolism of the body. These are mainly liquiritigenin and isoliquiritigenin. This often results in increased concentration of the drugs in the body and increased chances of suffering from the drug side effects.
4. Lower Potassium Levels
Licorice is known, in a few studies, to reduce the concentration of potassium in the body by causing excess mineralocorticoid production.
The excessive consumption of licorice might even cause hypokalemia and muscle weakness. This can lead to arrhythmia and also cause major heart problems over a long time.
5. Problems during Pregnancy
Heavy licorice consumption may result in shorter pregnancy terms leading to giving birth to premature babies. Glycyrrhizic acid in licorice might increase cortisol levels and cause contractions.
Uses of Licorice Root
People have been using licorice roots in many different ways as the drug is available in many different forms in the market. It is available in the form of chewable tablets, a liquid extract, powdered form, and also as loose herb.
For medicinal purposes, people have been using licorice by mixing it with gels like aloe vera to make it skin-friendly and fight against eczema. Some also use loose herbs by steeping them in hot water and using the water to make tea. This can provide great relief if you have a sore throat.
You can also purchase a prepared herbal tea that has licorice mentioned as the primary ingredient. Licorice can be extracted to a beverage and can help fight ulcers and stomach problems. However, one should not consume candies, teas, or any other supplements made of licorice for an extended period of time without having proper consultation from a doctor.
Licorice is nothing but an ancient remedy that has a cure for all the modern-day health problems as well. It has very well demonstrated its healing abilities in many clinical tests and studies. We highly recommend you use licorice but make sure you do it under the strict guidance of your doctor.