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The Health Benefits of Licorice

Updated on April 5, 2019
LoisRyan1965 profile image

Lois has over ten years' experience in the home/herbal remedy field. She seeks to inform her readers and help them to save money.

Go to any grocery store, gas station or convenience store and check out the candy aisles. What is one of the more popular candy items, asides from chocolate? It is licorice! While this candy may go by different names such as Twizzlers, licorice comes in a wide variety of flavors such as cherry, chocolate and strawberry. But nothing beats the taste of black licorice. Did you know that licorice is more than a candy that is pleasing to our taste buds? This candy actually comes from the licorice plant, where its roots and stems are packed with many health benefits and healing properties. It has been used for many years among both the Chinese and Native Americans to treat many health conditions and ailments.

Licorice Plant.  Yes this plant is what gives the candy its flavor.  However, many well-known brands use artificial flavoring for their candy.  If you want to benefit from this plant, it's best to buy the candy from a health food store.
Licorice Plant. Yes this plant is what gives the candy its flavor. However, many well-known brands use artificial flavoring for their candy. If you want to benefit from this plant, it's best to buy the candy from a health food store. | Source

The Health Benefits

Licorice is high in nutrients and minerals such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Chromium

A major source of flavonoids, licorice plays an excellent role in boosting your immune system. By including licorice in your daily diet, you can prevent yourself from getting a cold or a flu. If by chance you do fall victim to a cold or the flu, try this excellent homemade cough syrup. Chop up a piece of licorice root and allow it to steep in a cup of hot water for fifteen minutes.

Licorice is good for your heart since it is a natural blood thinner. When you have high levels of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, your arteries get clogged up with fatty buildup. This causes high blood pressure, because your heart has to work faster to move the blood through the arteries. This in turn can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Licorice contains sterols which play a role in reducing the amounts of cholesterol that are absorbed by your body. Taking licorice will help in reducing the chances of getting a heart attack or stroke.

Licorice contains expectorant properties. Taking licorice when you have a cold or flu will help speed up the recovery. That is because this plant contains glycosides which helps your body get rid of mucous and fluids that are trapped in your lungs and throat. This plant is also known as a demulcent (medicinenet), which provides your throat with a soothing coating. It acts as an excellent cough suppressant and is safer and more effective than what you buy at the store. Not only will you be breathing better, you will have clearer lungs and your voice will not sound so hoarse. Not only will licorice will speed up your recovery from the cold and flu, you can also use it to treat more serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.

Licorice contains anti-viral properties called Interferons (IFNs). "These are proteins made and released by host cells in response to the presence of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, or tumor cells. In a typical scenario, a virus-infected cell will release interferons causing nearby cells to ramp up their anti-viral defenses” (Interferon). Including licorice in your daily diet helps boost the immune system because these interferons play a role in repairing damaged white blood cells.

A healthy mix with apple pieces, rose hips, orange peel, papaya pieces, peppermint leaves, licorice root, lemon grass, cinnamon, black currants, rose and mallow blossoms.
A healthy mix with apple pieces, rose hips, orange peel, papaya pieces, peppermint leaves, licorice root, lemon grass, cinnamon, black currants, rose and mallow blossoms. | Source

Many females who are either going through menopause or are menstruating have drops in their estrogen levels. The symptoms of insufficient estrogen levels include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Anxiety
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Loss of libido
  • Mood swings

(natural-hormones)

Licorice plays a role in balancing hormones in women, helping relieve them of these symptoms.

While found in other parts of the body, helicobacter pylori is found mostly in the stomach. This bacterium is found “in patients with chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers, conditions not previously believed to have a microbial cause” (Wikipedia). Many stomach ulcers are caused by this bacterium. Licorice is an excellent medicine to treat stomach ulcers.

If you are suffering from constipation, chop up a piece of licorice root and allow it to steep in a cup of hot water for fifteen minutes. This will help moisture move through the digestive system. You will start having regular bowel movements in no time at all.

Licorice contains astringent properties. Applying the juice from licorice root to your skin will help clear up many skin conditions such as:

  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Cuts
  • Scrapes
  • Burns
  • Canker Sores

Licorice contains anti-inflammatory properties and is more effective in treating arthritis than cortisone injections and over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Licorice contains anti-bacterial properties. This herb is excellent to use as a mouth wash because it will kill the bacteria in your mouth. By giving you fresh breath, you are also preventing tooth decay and gum disease at the same time. The bacterium that gives you bad breath also attacks your gums and teeth.

Licorice plays a major role in improving liver function by removing the toxins from your body. It even removes kidney stones and prevents crystals from forming in the urinary tract because of its diuretic properties.

The sweetness of licorice comes from the root. This is called glycyrrhizin and is many times sweeter than sugar. Replacing this natural sweetener with what you have in your house is a natural and healthy choice. Including licorice in your daily diet will help your body reduce fat. Not only will it reduce belly fat, licorice will reduce fat from other parts of the body such as;

  • Back
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs
  • Arms

If you are trying to quit smoking, try chewing on a piece of licorice root.

Did you know that licorice came from a plant?

See results

Where to Purchase Licorice

While you can purchase licorice as a candy, it is best to purchase it from a health food store. While you might pay less at a grocery store, this candy is made with a lot of artificial flavors and colors. In other words, most of that candy do not contain real licorice. On the other hand, the licorice found in health food stores is all natural and organic. By eating this candy you are getting all the health benefits that licorice promises. Asides from candy, you can purchase a wide range of products containing licorice. These include:

  • Teas
  • Capsules
  • Licorice Root
  • Tinctures
  • Extracts

Chopped Licorice Root
Chopped Licorice Root | Source

Precautions

While the candy itself is safe to eat, you should use caution if you are planning to take licorice as a root, extract, tincture or capsule.

If you are diabetic talk to your doctor before taking licorice.

If you have high blood pressure, take to your doctor before taking licorice. The potassium level in your body can be depleted if you use licorice over a long period of time. When this happens, you run the risk of getting high blood pressure. Therefore, it is best to take a potassium supplement if you are going to include licorice in your daily diet. It is also suggested that you use licorice for a few days and then go without it for another few to allow your body to bring up your potassium level.

While licorice root is excellent in preventing heart disease, do not take it if you already have heart disease without talking to your doctor first.

Do not take licorice if you are pregnant.

Do not take more than three doses of licorice root per day.

Do not take licorice root for more than six weeks.

Licorice can increase water retention and bloating.

Talk to your child's pediatrician before giving your child licorice.

Always talk to your doctor before you start any herbal remedy regimen since some herbs may interact with medicines and supplements you may already be taking.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Lois Ryan

Comments

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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      14 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for all this good information which is new to me. Is all the candy really licorice, or is some of it just flavored?

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      14 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hi, noted, please, and thank you.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      14 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Thanks, Lora, for inputting your experiences for all. Have a nice time here.

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      14 months ago

      Excellent article on all the benefits of licorice! I have been a licorice enthusiast for years and especially a lover of black licorice. My favorite candy on the planet! But as you state in your article, you do need to get the natural and organic licorice found at a health food store or a store such as whole foods as some of the licorice that you buy doesn't contain licorice root which is what gives you so many benefits! I love Newman's Own as it has all natural ingredients and contains licorice root extract. Licorice is also low in fat. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful information.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      14 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hello, Lois, I have never heard of this herb before. However, I thank you for sharing the story. Have a nice time.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      14 months ago from North Central Florida

      I have enjoyed this food for many years and now I know it is actually good for me thank you for sharing Angels are headed your way this evening ps

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      14 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I had no idea licorice was so good for you. I never eat licorice because I thought it was just another candy. Thank you this good information.

    • LoisRyan1965 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lois Ryan 

      14 months ago from Binghamton NY

      From what I see it is good mostly for skin conditions and digestive disorders. And it is something to avoid if you have kidney problems. I will have to do further research, but for some reason I may have had the soda at one point in my life.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Your reference to Country Stores of which I travel to visit reminded me of real Sarsaparilla. Is it a real source of health benefits?

    • LoisRyan1965 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lois Ryan 

      14 months ago from Binghamton NY

      I find country type stores sell the better licorice. Funtastic Love it.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Fantastic. And funtastic. (OK that is a word I made up) I will look into finding a candy like one that does not have all the nasty stuff in it. Or maybe just go with you mixture here. Red Vine I suppose has very little Licorice.

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