Many people associate licorice with the flavor of candy, but it has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. It grows in the Mediterranean, Europe, and Asia and comes from the herb Glycyrrhiza glabra, which means “sweet root.” In fact, an extract of licorice root can be up to 50 times sweeter than sugar. This might explain why people were inspired to turn it into candy. In Chinese medicine, licorice is one of the most used herbs and is often used as a “guide drug” to enhance the effects of other herbs and remedies.
Treatment for Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is not an official condition that doctors diagnosed. However, some people use this term to describe the gut’s loss of permeability. The intestines play a role in blocking and protecting nutrients, pathogens and other substances from moving through the gut walls and to the bloodstream. When there is a leaky gut, the intestines no longer have control of what stays and what leaves the gut. Toxins and parasites can then enter the bloodstream in much larger concentrations than usual. This may create other serious problems in other organs or systems.
The way that licorice root aids in fighting inflammation is through the presence of Glycyrrhizin, which stops tissue inflammation and reduces the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Researchers have isolated more than 400 compounds from licorice, including isoliquiritigenin and naringenin. In recent years, licorice flavonoids have become more popular because they have shown significant antimicrobial, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory functions. Because of this anti-inflammatory power, licorice also protects and heals the liver, especially in cases of hepatitis. Its antioxidant properties keep the liver in good overall health.
Minimizes Coughs and Colds
Licorice root can help get rid of coughs. The ancient Greeks used it for the same purpose, as well as a treatment for asthma. The root acts as an expectorant, easing congestion and loosening and expelling phlegm. Chronic coughers will also find its properties soothing for irritated mucous membranes. In some cultures that depend on herbs for healing, licorice root has been an effective treatment for bronchitis. It has an anti-allergenic effect that relieves hay fever, conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis, and asthma.
Resolves Gastrointestinal Issues
Licorice root can beneficial soothe any irritation in the digestive tract. This includes painful spasms, bloating, gas, impaired digestion, and chronic gastritis. Those who have dyspepsia, indigestion and vomiting have found relief with this natural remedy. Typically, medications that treat these conditions combine the properties of licorice with chamomile, thistle, wormwood, angelica, and silverweed.
Reduces Female Reproductive Issues
The estrogen-like effects of licorice root have proven to reduce hot flashes in those who experience them. This is true for both the number and duration of hot flashes. Natural antioxidants and phytoestrogens perform some of the same functions as the estrogen that occurs naturally in the female body. Doctors have also used it as hormone therapy for women who are experiencing postmenopause. Some have prescribed it for women who deal with extreme symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, including irritability, bloating and tender breasts. There is a caution for women who take this natural remedy to relieve reproductive conditions. The glycyrrhizin in licorice slows the effect of the body’s own estrogens. However, because licorice root’s estrogenic effect is mild, its phytoestrogens can override this inhibiting action.
Heals Stomach Ulcers
Licorice root helps heal ulcers, which are open sores on the inside of the stomach. Typically they are caused by a tear in the mucous membrane. Ulcers are also known to be caused by Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, bacteria. The root lowers the acid levels in the stomach, which relieves heartburn and indigestion. This also brings some comfort to the digestive tract when it is irritated, inflamed or prone to spasms. Licorice root can speed up the repair of the stomach lining and restore its balance.
Boosts Immune System
In some users, licorice root has increased the production of T cells, which helps control immune responses and prevent autoimmune diseases. As a medicinal cure, licorice also boosts the levels of interferon, a chemical that helps the body fight off attacking viruses. The glycyrrhizinic acid found in licorice root also stops the growth of many kinds of bacteria and kills viruses like influenza A.
There have been recent studies that prove licorice root discourages the formation of the body of artery-clogging plaque. As a natural remedy, it limits the damage from LDL, or bad, cholesterol. Many people who struggle with high cholesterol find this useful for keeping their hearts functioning properly. They typically take licorice in small doses of about 100 mg per day.
Acts as a Laxative
As a laxative, licorice root has been offered alongside other natural remedies like dandelion root. At some point, almost everyone experiences the inability to eliminate waste from their systems. The straining they may do to overcome constipation can lead to other damage, including hemorrhoids. In addition to a low-fiber diet, constipation can be caused by prescription medications, living a sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, an underactive thyroid or sudden shifts in eating or work schedules.
Those who suffer from chronic stress and fatigue find the effects of licorice root soothing. It boosts cortisol activity in the body, which in turn increases energy and helps to relieve stress. This is a major boost for people who have from fibromyalgia. Licorice root, in this case, acts like aspirin and can ease both fevers and chronic headaches. Because licorice root acts on the adrenal glands, it can improve resistance to stress. This is not limited to physical stress. Licorice root can bring the same kind of remedy to emotional stress, especially after surgery or during recovery, or when you are feeling tired, run down and out of energy reserves.