Licorice root has properties that are amazing. The time has come to stop taking licorice as a simple ingredient for candy and to take it seriously for your health!
1) The health benefits of licorice root
You probably associate licorice with this stick of red candy, sweet and difficult to chew, or the pronounced taste of black licorice anise that we like or hate. However, real licorice is more like a dried root from the plant of the same name. Plant your teeth in it, and you will have quite a surprise!
You will first taste a very sweet substance, glycyrrhizin. This component and dozens of others give this ancient plant its medicinal properties. For thousands of years, licorice has been known to relieve irritations such as sore throats, stomach upset, congestion. Today, we discover even more important properties, but it also brings disadvantages that deserve just as much to be underlined.
2) How to consume licorice root as a supplement
Peeled licorice root is available dried and powdered, and in the form of capsules, cachets, or liquid extracts. The optimal dosage for an adult is to take 1 to 5 g of licorice per day – a dosage which represents 1 to 10 mg of glycyrrhizin – for 4 to 6 weeks.
3) Licorice helps protect the stomach
Licorice has already been considered a natural and effective remedy for stomach ulcers. The Dutch doctor F.E. Revers was the first to use it for treating his patients. During the 1950s, intrigued researchers discovered that the components of licorice caused the stomach to release protective mucus on its walls, limiting the effects caused by pepsin, a powerful digestive enzyme.
However, it was later discovered that prolonged use of licorice glycyrrhizin could cause pressure increases, water and sodium retention, and drops in potassium levels. It could not, therefore, be taken for prolonged treatment.
Although researchers have successfully demonstrated in India that the use of licorice without glycyrrhizin helps relieve the pain associated with an ulcer, most patients prefer to take antibiotics in order to eradicate the culprit bacteria. Scientists have chosen to look at other promising healing properties of licorice.
4) Licorice and its anti-cancer properties
Can licorice impose on cancer? In 2011, a laboratory study, conducted in India by the Roland Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, came to this conclusion. Three licorice substances – licochalcone-A, glabridin, and licocoumarone – have killed or slowed the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells, as well as leukemia cells. Glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhizinic acid stop the formation of cancerous tumors in the skin, colon, liver, uterus, and breast.
The use of licorice to fight cancer has not yet been widely tested in humans. However, a herbal formula developed for prostate cancer, containing PC-SPES (not available today), has been shown to be effective in clinical trials to slow the progression of the disease. Even though licorice certainly cannot replace recognized cancer treatments, scientists still believe in its potential.
5) Licorice and its anti-bacterial properties
Licorice is believed to have many other health benefits, including being one of the most important infection control agents. In 2010, the University of Texas published a study that found that glycyrrhizin helps create antibacterial proteins called antimicrobial peptides, which are very effective against infections and skin injuries. This research could lead to the development of treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections, such as those with severe burns.
Even more surprising, this sweet root is the ally of dentists. Two components of licorice, licoricidin, and licorisoflavane A destroy two bacteria in the laboratory that cause cavities, as well as three bacteria that cause gingivitis.
6) Antistress and anti-inflammatory effects of licorice
Licorice can be useful for the brain. In 2004, in a study by the University of Edinburgh, older men took licorice extract containing carbenoxolone. Their verbal memory and volubility have improved. How is it possible? Well, carbenoxolone inhibits an enzyme that generates hormonal stress, a factor in brain aging. Aware that more research is still needed, scientists nevertheless believe in the potential of licorice for improving memory. Tests on mice have shown that animals given licorice extract excel in learning and memorizing tests.