Licorice: It is not Just Candy
Licorice is a Plant Root Long Used in Natural Healing
We generally find licorice in the candy section of our local department or grocery store. We eat it as a sweet snack in between meals and we hand it out with our Halloween treats so exactly why would it not be classified as a candy?
Used as a health aide for thousands of years previous natural licorice is actually a root that has been used as a medicinal for a very long time. This is a fact that many individuals may be completely unaware of. Licorice is a food product that many people don't recognize as being anything more than simply a delightful sweet treat.
The medical and scientific communities today know considerably more about Licorices health benefits and detriments than when it was first introduced for medicinal purposes hundreds of years ago. Today we most often find it used as a flavoring in food products.
It still makes its appearance in health products and is still purchased by some individuals strictly for this purpose. You have probably heard of licorice cough drops or tea. Yet its medicinal attributes and side effects still remain highly misunderstood by the vast majority of people who consume it.
The Licorice plant - Glycyrrhiza Glabra
Glycyrrhiza Glabra translates from Greek to mean Sweet Root
The Licorice plant or Glycyrrhiza glabra is a low growth bush perennial in nature that grows wild in select areas of Europe and Asia and was originally considered a weed. Most commercially grown product is exported from Greece, Turkey, China, and Asia.
An ingredient known as Glycyrrhiza found within the roots and underground stems of the plant is what accounts for its taste and sweetness. Glycrrhiza is about fifty times sweeter than sugar, its name comes from Ancient Greece and appropriately translates to mean Sweet Root.
Ingredients within the plant's roots are used to make a popular black candy that we know, or refer to as licorice. The root is also commonly used as a sweetening or flavoring agent in a variety of today's commercial food products. It is often added to herb teas, cough soothing lozenges, cough syrups, or found in an assortment of candy products.
Licorice root is also used as a filler within drug capsules and even as a mask to offset a drugs unpleasant taste. In the United Kingdom it is used as an emulsifier to create the foam in drink products and alcoholic beverages. Yet among the people who consume it many are completely unaware of its health benefits and detriments.
Love it or hate it how do you feel about this natural treat?
Do you enjoy the taste of licorice?
The Health Benefits Of Licorice
Licorice root or Glycrrhiza is primarily used as a treatment for inflammation of the stomach or for ailments of the upper respiratory tract.
It is used as an aide for constipation, gastritis, stomach ulcers, canker sores or mouth ulcers, and also for relief of menstrual cramping. As well it is frequently used to relieve symptoms of bronchitis or the common cold, and can be found in many over the counter cough syrups, and lozenges.
Studies are currently being conducted to see if Glycrrhiza could prove beneficial in the treatment of HIV and Genital Herpes. So far the results are showing positive results.
It is always best when looking into alternative health therapies to consult with your local doctor to insure that participating in that treatment will be of benefit to you. Always research and be aware of the medications, herbs and alternative therapies that you are considering undertaking. Most herbal and alternative treatments are not federally regulated and as such can prove harmful or even fatal if used incorrectly.
Red Licorice is Not Plant Based it is a True Candy
Red Licorice is Very Different from Black
It turns out that the red variety of this treat isn't a licorice product at all. It really is candy. It does not contain the potentially harmful effects that black licorice may contain because it is made from artificial flavorings of cherry, strawberry, or raspberry, rather than from the root of the glyrrhiza glabra plant. It is a true sweet candy treat made from sugars or syrups.
Take Note of the Amount You Consume
Potential Side Effects Associated with Over Consumption
Licorice is not without its negative health affects and most people are unaware of the ill effects that can occur from consuming this sweet treat on a regular basis.
Eating as little as fifty grams of black licorice candy per day for a two week period can raise a person's blood pressure dramatically. It can also cause potassium depletion, electrolyte disturbance, sodium or fluid retention, or effect PH levels within the blood. People should be very aware of the amount that they consume and the length of time that they consume it.
Glycyrrhizic acid is the compound within Licorice that is responsible for most of the negative attributes. Which is why a means has been devised to remove this ingredient from the root itself. This safer product is labeled as DGL or deglycyrrhizinated licorice.
As another means of avoiding the harmful effects of Glycrrhizic acid, the anise plant which has a similar flavor is now often used in food products in combination with or to replace its use.
© 2008 Lorelei Cohen