Licorice Root - Uses and Benefits
Primitive and ancient civilizations as well as contemporary cultures throughout the world have always relied on herbs to provide the health benefits and prevention or cure from the ailments. The World Health Organization has estimated that 80 percent of the world's population continues to use traditional therapies, a major part of which are derived from plants, as their primary health care tools.
It is a fact that herbs and herbal products provide real health benefits while maintaining a remarkable safety profile. These natural substances were the first medicines used by humans. Licorice root is one of those herbs which is being used for decades for both a sweetener and for it's medicinal value. The active ingredient in the root for human consumption is glycyrrhizin.
Common Names: licorice root, licorice, liquorice, sweet root, gan zao (Chinese licorice)
Licorice Root has a long history of clinical human trials. It is specific for upper respiratory infections, coughs, colds, and ulcerations anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, especially the stomach. It is highly useful for helping repair damaged adrenals, and this helps restore overall system health and vitality.
Active Ingredients: Between 6 and 14 percent of the root is the glycoside glycyrrhizin. This calcium or potassium salt of glycyrrhizinic acid is fifty times sweeter than table sugar.
Licorice contains a number of other triterpenoid saponins, along with plant sterols including sitosterol and stigmasterol. The root also contains several other sugars, including glucose, mannose, and sucrose. More than thirty flavonoids and isoflavonoids have been identified, including liquiritin and its derivatives.
What Licorice Root Is Used For?
Licorice root has been used as a dietary supplement and as an herbal remedy for stomach ulcers, bronchitis, and sore throat, as well as infections caused by viruses, such as hepatitis.
Licorice Root has been used for centuries to help curb the appetite, aid digestion, reduce inflammation, support the adrenal glands and proper liver function, and is said to help reduce body fat.
How Licorice Root Is Used?
Peeled licorice root is available in dried and powdered forms.
Licorice root is available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.
Licorice can be found with glycyrrhizin removed; the product is called DGL (for "deglycyrrhizinated licorice").
What the Science Says about Licorice Root?
A review of several clinical trials found that glycyrrhizin might reduce complications from hepatitis C in some patients. However, there is not enough evidence to confirm that glycyrrhizin has this effect. There are not enough reliable data to determine whether licorice is effective for stomach ulcers.
Uses and benefits:
It is used for many ailments including asthma, athlete's foot, baldness, body odour, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, prostate enlargement and arthritis.
Licorice root contains many anti-depressant compounds and is an excellent alternative to St. John's Wort. As a herbal medicine it has an impressive list of well documented uses and is probably one of the most over-looked of all herbal wonders. Licorice is useful for many ailments including asthma, athlete's foot, baldness, body odor, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, prostate enlargement and arthritis.
Hundreds of potentially healing substances have been identified in licorice as well, including compounds called flavonoids and various plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). The herb's key therapeutic compound, glycyrrhizin (which is 50 times sweeter than sugar) exerts numerous beneficial effects on the body, making licorice a valuable herb for treating a host of ailments. It seems to prevent the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol (the body's primary stress-fighting adrenal hormone), making these hormones more available to the body.
It has a well-documented reputation for healing ulcers. It can lower stomach acid levels, relieve heartburn and indigestion and acts as a mild laxative.
It can also be used for irritation, inflammation and spasm in the digestive tract. Through its beneficial action on the liver, it increases bile flow and lowers cholesterol levels.
Licorice also appears to enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses. It also contains powerful antioxidants as well as certain phytoestrogens that can perform some of the functions of the body's natural estrogens; very helpful during the menopause. Glycyrrhizinic acid also seems to stop the growth of many bacteria and of viruses such as influenza A.
In the respiratory system it has a similarly soothing and healing action, reducing irritation and inflammation and has an expectorant effect, useful in irritating coughs, asthma and chest infections.
It has an aspirin-like action and is helpful in relieving fevers and soothing pain such as headaches. Its anti-allergenic effect is very useful for hay fever, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and bronchial asthma. Possibly by its action on the adrenal glands, licorice has the ability to improve resistance to stress. It should be thought of during times of both physical and emotional stress, after surgery or during convalescence, or when feeling tired and run down.
Side Effects and Cautions of Licorice Root
- In large amounts, licorice containing glycyrrhizin can cause high blood pressure, salt and water retention, and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart problems. DGL products are thought to cause fewer side effects.
- The safety of using licorice as a supplement for more than 4 to 6 weeks has not been thoroughly studied.
- Taking licorice together with diuretics (water pills) or other medicines that reduce the body's potassium levels could cause dangerously low potassium levels.
- People with heart disease or high blood pressure should be cautious about using licorice.
- When taken in large amounts, licorice can affect the body's levels of a hormone called cortisol and related steroid drugs, such as prednisone.
- Pregnant women should avoid using licorice as a supplement or consuming large amounts of licorice as food, as some research suggests it could increase the risk of preterm labor.
- Tell your health care providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using, including licorice root. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.
More at: Herbwisdom
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