Licorice is a naturally sweet herb that has been used for centuries in various societies. It is most often found in extract or root form, and the uses for this herb include treating ulcers and addressing menopausal symptoms.
Benefits and Uses of Licorice
Below you will learn more about the many benefits and uses of licorice (glycyrrhiza glabra).
1. Liver Aid
Licorice is effective in reducing toxicity and stabilizing liver function. This regulating function helps protect the liver from damage. One study showed that the flavonoid isoliquiritigenin that is found in licorice can protect the liver cells from damage related to oxidative stress and poor diet. This protection and support of the liver is important for those suffering from hepatitis B and diabetes, two particular conditions that can otherwise cause damage to the liver.
2. Stomach Ailments
The glycyrrhizic acid in this herb can inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria and treat the symptoms associated with impaired digestion and dyspepsia.
3. Respiratory Conditions
Licorice provides relief from upper respiratory tract infections caused by bacteria and viruses, and is beneficial in treating colds, coughs, sore throats, bronchitis, and other lung infections. It also works well as an expectorant in expelling mucus and foreign substances from the lungs and bronchi, as well as reducing constrictions in the airway and treating the symptoms of asthma.
4. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Because it contains potent anti-inflammatory properties, licorice is effective in reducing inflammation in the body and thus reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Menopause and PMS
Licorice root helps to regulate the productions of hormones estrogen and progesterone. Because many menopausal and menstrual symptoms are related to hormone imbalance, licorice root therefore helps eliminate or alleviate many symptoms such as irritability, hot flashes, and cramps. Licorice root can also help prevent excessive water retention and bloating.
6. Ulcers and Canker Sores
Licorice is particularly effective in treating aphthous ulcers, also known as canker sores. Applying licorice extract can help reduce both pain and inflammation associated with these sores.
7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Licorice is also effective in regulating the production of other hormones in the body, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Incorporating more licorice (root or extract) into the diet occasionally can help improve the body’s response to stress and increase energy levels.
8. Skin Care
Licorice has been shown to be effective in treating skin conditions such as eczema and acne. Applying licorice extract topically will also help with dry, irritated, and itchy skin. Licorice extract also has some skin-lightening abilities which may be useful for those with unwanted scars and discoloration.
9. Immune Support
Licorice helps support the immune system by stimulating immune cells into action, as well as elevating levels of interferon (antiviral agent) in the body. Licorice is also effective in treating viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Licorice has been shown to be effective in treating infections such as tuberculosis, shingles, and even HIV-related infections.
10. Cancer Prevention
Studies have shown that licorice root has the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the body. Licorice extracts are also believed to have tumor-fighting properties which inhibits the growth of tumors in the body. Licorice root may also help protect the body from some of chemotherapy’s negative side effects.
11. Heart Health
Licorice also helps support the health of the heart. Because of its antioxidant properties, licorice helps to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of atherosclerosis. This is incredibly important for those that naturally have high cholesterol or have already been diagnosed with heart disease.
Licorice has also been suggested to help detoxify the body and blood, aid in weight loss, and improve oral health. The herb has also been shown to improve cognitive health, which can support treatment for depression, memory retention, and other cognitive conditions. As with anything else, licorice should not be taken in large quantities.
How to Use Licorice
The root powder of licorice can be used in the amount of 5 to 6 grams per day, and concentrated amounts can be used in the amounts of 250 to 500 mg three times per day. Licorice tea can be made by placing a few pieces of licorice root in one pint of water and simmering for 15 to 20 minutes. It is suggested to drink two to three cups of this a day to gain the health benefits. Use licorice root tea bags to regulate the quantity of the tea and for ease of making.
Using licorice long-term can cause blood pressure to rise, potassium to lower, and retention of water. It is not safe for those who take insulin, diuretics, MAO inhibitors, and steroid therapies, and it should not be used by pregnant or lactating women for purposes of healing.