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Licorice – Health Benefits of Liquorice Root

Updated on May 1, 2011

Liquorice

Not to be confused with the candy made from licorice, health benefits of liquorice root are numerous.

Spelt Liquorice in the UK and Licorice in USA, I use both here, not to confuse.

The liquorice plant is native to Central Asia and southern Europe. Its name is derived from the Latin 'Liquiritia officinalis' and from Greek, meaning 'sweet root' which is apt, as it is supposedly 50 times sweeter than sugar itself.

Liquorice plays a huge part in Chinese medicine, and has been for over 5,000 years. It is the most prescribed Herb in China, apart from ginseng.

Healthy Root

Licorice Root for Health
Licorice Root for Health

Liquorice Root

Among its many properties are; Glycyrrhizin, (the most beneficial of its components,) phytoestrogens (plant oestrogens) flavonoids (antioxidants) magnesium, silicon and thiamine.

Licorice root is an efficient expectorant, helping to loosen and eject mucus and phlegm. It is also an anti-inflammatory, and helpful in soothing problems in the mouth and throat, as well as the digestive and urinary tracts.

Licorice has been used to treat all kinds of problems, including food poisoning, stomach and liver complaints, bronchitis, allergies. Acid reflux, eczema and psoriasis. Also asthma, athlete's foot, canker sores, depression, dandruff and fungal infections. Not to mention gingivitis and other gum disease, tooth decay, Lyme disease, psoriasis, shingles, TB, gout, enlarged prostate and arthritis. To name but a few!

Licorice root boosts interferon levels, thus helping the immune system. It is also a powerful anti-viral, combating as well as protecting from viruses. It has been used effectively in fighting herpes simplex virus, which causes herpes and cold sores.

In Europe it is used regularly to combat viral hepatitis. In intravenous form, it is used to treat hepatitis B and C. Of course this would only be done by a professional physician.

Yeast infections, funghi and bacteria, are also treated effectively with this root.

Ulcers of the digestive tract and stomach are also treated by licorice root, as it stimulates cell growth in the linings, increases the flow of blood to the tissues, and decreases muscles spasm.

PMS and menopause problems are often helped by licorice root, too as the phyoestogens it contains, act in a similar way to oestrogen.

Licorice root has earned a reputation as an excellent tonic for the liver, as well as being called a harmonising herb, as when mixed with other herbs, it will enhance their benefits, making them more efficient, while at the same time adding sweetness to the often bitter taste of medicinal herbs.

The antioxidant properties of this root help in protecting against cancer.

You can buy extracts in your health food store, which are available with or without glycyrrhizin. With this component, would mainly be used in respiratory infections. Without, used mostly for ulcers and digestive complaints. As well as extracts you can buy capsules, and powdered root preparations for infusions.

Licorice can be taken in many forms. The root itself can be chewed, or crushed in boiling water as an infusion. This infusion when cooled, can be used as a gargle, for sore throats or canker sores, (warm rather than cold) Licorice gel, topically applied, soothes itching, swelling and redness of skin.

Crushed licorice root, mixed with peppermint and chamomile, makes a good remedy for indigestion, and also acid reflux.

Side-effects of liquorice, particularly if overused, have been noted. These include headaches, high blood pressure, water retention, fatigue, and possible heart problems.

However if used sensibly (three or four times a day, and for no more than three weeks at the time) you should find no problems.

If after a few weeks the licorice root hasn't helped a problem, it's time to see a doctor. Also if any of these side effects appear.

Anyone who already has any of these problems, should not take licorice:

Fluid retention, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, heart problems.

Pregnant or nursing mothers should not use licorice.

Licorice can react badly with certain medications, such as:

digoxin, corticosteroids, laxatives, oral contraceptives, insulin or diabetes drugs, and MAO inhibitors.

If unsure, please consult a professional.

The benefits of licorice root far outweigh any problems that may have been noted. It is definitely one of nature's most powerful natural remedies.

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    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR

      dianew 

      5 years ago from Spain

      Thanks Tonymead60 for taking the time to read and comment. I am English too, from Sussex, and I really think liquorice is a Brit thing; I don't know many Spanish here that like it.

      That is the first I've heard of overdosing on it, but interesting. I will look into that and maybe add a little to the hub.

      I have glanced at your profile and I see some very interesting hubs, I look forward to reading. Thanks again!

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 

      5 years ago from Yorkshire

      Dianew

      I love licorice, coming from Yorkshire which was Englands heartland for the stuff. I had to stop eating it because of my blood pressure.

      We have had ppeople in hospital with overdoses of it.

      It is often refered to as Spanish here... the reason behind that was that it was introduced by monks from Spain into Yorkshire in the 12th century.

      nice tasty hub, voted up and stuff.

      regards

      Tony

    • dianew profile imageAUTHOR

      dianew 

      5 years ago from Spain

      Thanks frogyfish for taking the time to read and for the comment.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 

      5 years ago from Central United States of America

      Useful information about a good-tasting herbal, and I was not aware of most of those medication interactions you gave. I do remember that extended use of licorice can reduce potassium levels, which might relate to several of those above situations. I have enjoyably used a licorice flavored toothpaste...yum, there! Thanks for your informative hub.

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