Licorice or “liquorice” belongs to the Glycyrrhiza plant species.
Licorice is well-known for its rich flavor as well as its therapeutic benefits. In fact, its name comes from the Greek word ‘glukurrhiza’ meaning ‘sweet root’. This is due to its glycyrrhizin constituent that is much sweeter than sugar.
Licorice is a good source of vitamins and minerals such as; vitamin B1 (thiamine), B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin E (tocopherol), B3 (niacin), B2 (riboflavin), choline, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, silicon, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Licorice is also rich in phytonutrients such as glycyrrhizin, isoliquiritigenin, phenol, ferulic acid, beta-carotene, glabridin, thymol, and quercetin.
Below are various benefits of licorice root;
1. It Helps Protect Your Liver
Licorice contains glycyrrhizin; an extract used to treat problems by reducing toxins in the human body. As a result, the liver can achieve stability and normal functioning. A study has also revealed the presence of flavonoid isoliquiritigenin in licorice root. This extract helps to protect cells in the liver cells from diet-induced disorders such as high-fat and damage from high oxidative stress.
2. It Helps Deal With Stomach Problems
Glycyrrhizic Acid; an extract found in licorice helps shield you against the growth of Helicobacter Pylori bacteria. The extract, also, offers therapeutic relief while treating dyspepsia (indigestion) symptoms.
3. It Helps Treat Mouth Ulcers / Canker Sores
It has been proven that licorice provides invaluable help in treating recurrent and painful aphthous ulcers, otherwise referred to as canker sores. These sores comprise small lesions that are non-contagious which form in the mouth and gums. Various studies on licorice have proven that the root extracts offer a significant improvement to individuals suffering from this condition especially in the reduction of both inflammation and pain. Licorice, also, has extracts that help stimulate the body’s immune system to provide stronger defiance to disease.
4. It Helps Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Extracts found in licorice contain anti-inflammatory traits that have been proven, through research, to be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis. The root helps reduce the intensity of pro-inflammatory arthritis cytokines. Thus, in the process, helping to relieve some of the pain and swelling.
5. It Helps With Cancer Prevention
Licorice extracts contain chemopreventive traits that assist with treating various cancer types. Studies have shown the roots to have anti-proliferative effects that restrict the growth of cancerous cells in the human breast. Licorice root also has flavonoids, like isoliquiritigenin, that helps destroy colon carcinogenesis. These flavonoids, also, induce apoptosis, otherwise referred to as “Programmed Cell Death “.
Research also shows licorice extracts to have anti-tumor properties. Accordingly, the extracts effectively reduce toxicity caused by chemotherapy treatment and fight the growth of tumor cells. Licorice also helps treat prostate cancer and chronic prostatitis.
6. Helps Treat Chronic Fatigue
Licorice helps prevent malfunctioning adrenal glands. In effect, this helps ensure better functioning of the human body by ensuring the continued supply of cortisol and other hormones that manage body stresses. Licorice root is an effective remedy for people suffering from the side effects of prolonged steroid use. It counters the negative actions of such steroids on such a patient’s adrenal glands. Licorice is also recommended for patients recovering from surgery as it helps improve the body’s stress resistance.
7. It Helps Treat Tuberculosis
Studies show that extracts from licorice are not only effective treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis, but they also help reduce the time taken to heal from the ailment. The antimicrobial and anti-mycobacterial action of licorice constituents offers an effective treatment for lung infections making it an invaluable anti-tubercular agent.
8. It Helps Boost Immunity
Licorice helps improve the body’s defense against disease-causing organisms. It elevates interferon levels in the body alongside glycyrrhizic acid. Interferon effectively fights viral micro-organisms in the body and stimulates white blood cells to fight against harmful viruses and bacteria.
9. It Is A Treatment For Infections
Glycyrrhizic acid, present in licorice, offers an effective remedy against various bacterial, fungal and viral infections. The anti-viral properties of licorice extracts help inhibit the growth of herpes virus and prevent further growth of cancer. This infection-fighting trait has also been discovered to be beneficial in treating shingles.
10. It Effectively Fights Against Atherosclerosis
The antioxidants present in licorice help the body maintain healthy cholesterol. Flavonoids, such as glabridin, alongside other constituents found in licorice help prevent the accumulation of harmful cholesterol in the body. As a result, you would be less at risk of developing atherosclerosis and other related heart diseases.
11. It’s A Remedy For Respiratory Disorders
Licorice extracts can help treat coughs, bronchitis, colds, sore throats, and other lung diseases. They also offer relief for patients suffering from upper respiratory infections due to bacteria or viruses. Licorice root works effectively to expel mucus and other substances from your lungs and bronchi, thus, helping you relax from bronchial spasms. Studies have, also, proven that licorice roots help treat asthma by reducing airway constriction.
12. It Helps Manage HIV
Licorice helps treat HIV by managing related, sympathetic infections. The glycyrrhizic acid, present in licorice root, helps fight against the proliferation of the HIV virus by boosting beta-chemokines’ production. Glycyrrhizic acid also protects white blood cells from destruction by HIV and, in effect, helps strengthen the immune system of an HIV patient.
13. Helps In Body Detoxification
Licorice has laxative properties that help in detoxification of both blood supply and the colon. Studies show that dehyroglyasperin, a licorice component, has been found helpful in the stimulation of the second phase of detoxification. During this stage, antioxidant enzymes prompt the body to expel poisonous and harmful toxic wastes.
14. Helps Boost Female Fertility
Licorice tea has been suggested as a remedy for women suffering from fertility complications due to irregular hormone balance. Licorice helps regulate the synthesis of the estrogen hormone and, as a result, facilitates the treatment of fertility problems amongst women. The herb is an effective cure for normalizing irregular cycles, and this helps restore regular ovulation which increases the chances of conception.
15. It Helps Manage Obesity
Extracts present in licorice have been found to help in reducing obesity. Flavonoid oil, present in licorice, has anti-obesity properties as it fights against rising triglycerides levels and the deposit of adipose tissues in the body.
Licorice root, also, contains roughages and fibers which can effectively make one feel full and thus consume less food. Furthermore, studies show that licorice helps reduce body fat. The root also acts favorably on body fat thickness by helping reduce the same. Supplementing your diet with licorice roots and flavonoid oil would, thus, help you reduce your risk of obesity.
16. It Is A Hepatitis Remedy
Licorice has been found to effectively treat chronic hepatitis B. Its extracts help suppress the production of the hepatitis B antigen. In effect, this helps the liver function better. Additionally, licorice root extracts also help protect the liver against alcohol-related injury. They are an antioxidant that helps the liver in its antioxidizing functions.
17. It Helps In Hair Care
Licorice also helps to maintain healthy hair. It reduces oil secretion and prevents dandruff occurrence. Licorice compounds help inhibit dihydrotestosterone hormone growth and instead facilitates and promotes hair growth.
18. It Helps In Skin Care
Licorice has extracts that make it an excellent remedy for various skin ailments including; eczema, psoriasis and athlete’s foot. Studies show that the use of licorice help relieves itching and swelling of the skin. Additionally, components found in licorice have been found to have skin-lightening traits. Topical use of licorice compounds, also, help shield the skin from erythema caused by UV radiation and improves skin that is prone to persistent facial redness.
Accordingly, using licorice to brighten up your skin is advised. A suggested facial treatment entails mixing turmeric powder, licorice tea, and fuller’s earth. Apply the mixture on the face and after it dries, rinse it off with normal water. For extra skin hydration, you can add a few drops of olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil. By using licorice regularly, you could effectively deal with dark spots and blemishes.
19. It Acts Against Depression
Studies are showing that licorice constituents are effective in combating menopausal depression in women both before and after a cycle. The herb contains needed minerals including calcium, beta-carotene, and magnesium, alongside other favorable flavonoids that help fight depression.
20. It Promotes Dental Health
Licorice extracts help prevent and treat gingivitis and dental caries. The deglycyrrhizinated extract of licorice helps prevent dental plaques and biofilms from forming. These antibacterial properties are the reason behind the extensive use of licorice root extracts in the making of oral health products including mouthwash and toothpaste.
21. It Combats Neurological Disorders
Licorice has compounds that help treat neurological disorders including Lyme disease and Bell’s palsy. Licorice root extracts prevent involuntary tears and the formation of other neurological symptoms like paralysis in patients with Bell’s palsy.
22. It Helps Manage Diabetic Nephropathy
According to a study, roasted licorice effectively helps treat diabetic nephropathy, whereby kidney damage occurs due to prolonged diabetes. Licorice has inhibitory traits that help prevent and treat the symptoms associated with this condition. These symptoms include glomerulosclerosis which often leads to diabetic nephropathy as a consequence of long-term diabetes.
23. It Has Culinary Benefits
Licorice extracts also prove to be beneficial and are preferred as flavoring agents in candy, sweets and other confectionery products. The roots have been used since pre-industrial times for this purpose.
Side Effects Of Licorice Root
- Licorice could lead to cardiac complications such as congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia in some people. As such, people with heart disorders/conditions should be careful with respect to licorice intake.
- Licorice has estrogenic effects on the body. As such, its intake could worsen hormone-sensitive disorders/conditions such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.
- Licorice could adversely affect testosterone levels in males and, as such, hamper one’s sex drive.
- Licorice could interact with potassium-lowering medications in the body. Thus, causing potassium levels to drop very low. This could lead to hypokalemia that could lead to malfunctioning of nerves as well as muscle complications.
- Excessive intake of licorice during pregnancy is not advised.
- Licorice could also interact with corticosteroids and adversely affect the level of cortisol hormone.
Note: Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (removing glycyrrhizin from licorice) has been suggested to result in fewer side effects.
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