Nutritional and Health Benefits of Licorice Root
Liquorice root has been used in making candies, sweets, herbal infusions, soft drinks, liquer and in tobacco products to enhance the flavor and taste.
It is also used as a spice.
Liquorice root stays good for 2 years after harvest. One can suck on a piece of liquorice to obtain its advantages.
Liquorice is available as dried root, tea, tablets, capsules and liquid extracts.
Nutrients In Liquorice
Liquorice contains the following among other nutrients.
- Glycyrrhizic acid, one the main active constituents.
- Isoflavones, the plant estrogens.
- Flavonoids, another active constituent.
- Sugars and starches.
- Several amino acids.
- Essential oils.
- Minerals like manganese and phosphorus.
- Many Bcomplex vitamins.
About the Licorice Plant
Latin Name : Glycyrrhiza glabra
In India, Liquorice is called "Mulethi".
Some other names by which licorice (or liquorice) is known as are : sweet root, Spanish liquorice, peacemaker herb.
Liquorice is the root of the liquorice plant and is native to Asia and Southern Europe. It has a sweet taste and smell. The plant is a herb growing from 3 to 7 feet tall. It grows best in full sunlight.
The aromatic smell is due to the many volatile oils it contains. The sweetness is due to the compound glycyrrhizin, which tastes about 50 times sweeter than sugar.
The roots of the liquorice plant are straight and round, and grow horizontally underground. They are brown on the outside and yellow on the inside. The fresh root has about 50% water while the dried root has about 10% water.
Liquorice has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years, and Western medicine. In Ayurveda liquorice has been usedsince ancient times. Its use finds mention in the old Ayurvedic texts like Charak Samhita, Sushruta, Ashtanghvday etc.
Health Benefits Of Liquorice
Liquorice is an amazing herb. Read all about the various health benefits it offers.
- Checks Cancer
Studies have shown that liquorice controls and reduces the growth of human breast cancer cells and colon cancer cells. Other studies show that it has anti tumor activity. It reduces the toxicity caused by chemotherapy and also prevents tumor cell production.
- Prevents Diabetes / Maintains Cognitive Function
Liquorice contains an anti diabetic substance amorfrutine that also has anti inflammatory action and helps to reduce blood sugar levels, prevents development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that glabridin protects the nervous functions leading to better memory, learning ability and prevents cognitive decline in diabetics.
Roasted liquorice cures diabetic nephropathy (Kidney damage due to diabetes) as studies indicate.
- Liver Protective & Antioxidant Effect
Studies show thatliquorice protects liver. It is useful in treating liver disorders and normalizes the liver function as shown by studies due to its glycyrrhiz content.
Another study shows that liquorice possesses an antioxidant flavonoid that protects liver cells from high fat diet induced effects and oxidative damage.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Fibromyalgia
Liquorice improves the function of the adrenal glands so that it can produce cortisol in times of stress.
Liquorice is beneficial in people who have been taking steroids for a long time on medical grounds. Long term use of steroids has a suppressive action on the adrenal glands and liquorice counters this suppression. It helps to reduce stress post surgery and the glycyrrhizinic acid reduces symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
- Treats Canker Sores
Canker sores are small ulcer like lesions inside the mouth and on the gums.Liquorice has treated recurrent cases of canker sores. It has been reported to have effectively reduced inflammation and pain and healed canker soresas studies indicate.
- Peptic Ulcer
It has been shown in studies thatdeglycyrrhizinized licorice treats gastric ulcers effectively. It also does not cause side effects like edema, hypertension, weight gain or electrolye imbalance.
- Maintains Dental Health
Liquorice extract prevents and treats cavities and gingivitis, prevents plaque formation on the teeth. Deglycyrrhizinated liquorice has antimicrobial action against Streptococcus mutans and prevents biofilm and plaque formation, as has been confirmed by studies.
Its extracts are used in toothpastes and mouthwashes for this reason.
- Prevents Atherosclerosis
Studies show that the antioxidants in liquorice keep blood cholesterol levels healthy by reducing LDL cholesterol.
- Benefits In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Liquorice has anti inflammatory properties and hence provides relief in swelling and pain of rheumatoid arthritis as indicated bystudies.
- Fights Depression
Liquorice in studies has shown to fight pre and post menoupausal depression and hot flushesin women as it contains beta carotene, flavonoids and minerals.
- Corrects Female Fertlity Issues
Infertility due to hormonal disturbances like polycystic ovary is corrected by taking liquorice tea.
Liquorice regulates secretion of estrogen and helps to treat female fertility.
Liquorice reduces serum testosterone levels in females and thereby treats polycystic ovary problems and hirsutism.
- Raises Immunity Levels
Liquorice raises the levels of interferon and boosts immunity thus combating infections by virus and bacteria like Influenza A.
- Menopause And PMS
Studies indicate that liquorice treats symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome. It helps to maintain the balance of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
Studies also show that liquorice reduces nocturnal hot flushes and improves the psychological and physical health of women undergoing menopause.
- HIV Infection
Studies show that glycyrrhizin in liquorice checks the proliferation of HIV virus and also prevents the destruction of white blood cells and strengthens immunity.
- Checks Obesity
Liquorice and its extract prevents obesity. Liquorice oil reduces abdominal fat and triglyceride levels.
- Treats Tuberculosis
Studies show that liquorice treats pulmonary tuberculosis and helps in faster healing.
Another study shows that liquorice also treats lung infections.
- Benefits Skin
Studies indicate that liquorice heals the skin and can usefully treat skin infections like psoriasis, eczema and athletes foot. It reduces swelling and itching. Liquorice also protects the skin against the UV rays induced erythema, reduces redness and inflammation.
- Treats Various Infections
Liquorice is anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti viral and prevents growth of herpes virus.
It also protects people with herpes virus infection from getting herpes cancer.
Liquorice fights the virus which causes both shingles and chicken pox.
- Treats Respiratory Disorders
Liquorice treats cough, cold, sore throat, bronchitis even emphysema. It helps in removal of mucus and relaxes bronchial spasms.
Studies show that liquorice opens constricted airways and benefits in asthma.
- Has Detox Effect
As per studies, Liquorice detoxifies the blood and removes toxins from the body. It also possesses laxative effects
- Treats Hepatitis Infection
Liquorice is useful in treating chronic hepatitis B virus infections. It also improves the liver function.
- Benefits In Low Blood Pressure
Licorice helps to normalize blood pressure by preventing the breakdown of cortisol which is one of the causes for low blood pressure
Licorice also,improves digestion by preventing the growth of H.pylori bacteria, cures dyspepsia and improves digestion.reduces oil secretion, prevents dandruff in hair and also stimulates hair growth
Some Precautions & Side Effects
Those suffering from high blood pressure, liver disease, low potassium levels, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, hormone sensitive cancers, fluid retention, edema etc, should not consume liquorice.
It is also contraindicated in those who take digoxin based drugs, ACE inhibitors, corticosteroids, insulin or diabetes drugs, diuretics, warfarin, laxatives, medicines processed by the liver etc.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid it.
Liquorice may interact/interfere with several medications.
Some side effects of liquorice are :
Headaches, elevated BP, edema, shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular menses, kidney disorders. It can affect levels of testosterone in men.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice causes fewer side effects.
Always consult your doctor before consuming liquorice.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
Herbal Medicine & Home Remedies : Benefits of Licorice Root
Low Blood Sugar - Natural Ayurvedic Home Remedies
Liquorice Root मुलेठी (In Hindi)
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
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