You might think of Licorice Root Herbal Supplement as just a candy, but the potent herb has health benefits that go beyond just satisfying your sweet tooth.
What exactly is licorice?
When you think of licorice, your first thought may be of those black jellybeans that you always threw away in favor of the fruitier flavors. But licorice root is an herb that contains many bioactive compounds, the most prominent being glycyrrhizic acid. It has been used for centuries for its medicinal benefits, and it is available in many forms, including licorice extract, powder, and tea. Speaking of jellybeans, check out these eight surprising facts about the favorite Easter candy.
Licorice soothes your stomach
“Licorice is often used for GI symptoms including heartburn, stomach ulcers, colitis, and gastritis or any inflammation of the lining of the stomach or upper GI tract,” says Upton. It is a soothing anti-inflammatory, so it can help protect against ulcerative disorders. A small study published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a safe and effective alternative to over-the-counter stomach ulcer medications. Here are more surprising stomachache remedies.
Licorice fights against stress
If you’re someone who is stressed often, licorice root may help. In the medical journal Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, the herb was found to help the body more efficiently regulate the stress hormone cortisol.
Licorice improves respiratory health
“Licorice can be used for the treatment of severe respiratory issues, including cough, sore throat, asthma, and bronchitis,” says Rebecca Park, RN, founder of the website remediesforme.com. It not only may help provide alleviation from upper respiratory infections caused by bacteria, but it can help get rid of mucus from the lungs and help relax bronchial spasms.
Licorice boosts your immunity
One study published in the journal Food Chemistry found licorice to have “antioxidant, free-radical scavenging, immunostimulating” properties. Here are more habits that boost your immune system.
Licorice improves your skin
“Licorice is beneficial for the skin when used internally and externally,” says Park. “It helps to heal skin ailments such as eczema, psoriasis, inflammation, sunburn, persistent skin redness, and athlete’s foot.” Topical solutions with licorice extracts can be used in relieving swelling and itchy skin. Find out more spices that give a boost to your skin-care routine.
Licorice improves your dental health
This multipurpose herb may also help keep your teeth and gums healthy. One study from the Journal of Natural Products found that licorice root contains two effective antibacterial compounds that can prevent the growth of bacteria connected with cavities and gum disease. Here are more foods that give you stronger, whiter teeth.
Can licorice stand up to cancer? A lab study conducted at India’s Roland Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2011 says yes. The compounds licochalcone-A, glabridin and licocoumarone halted the growth of or killed, breast cancer, prostate cancer and leukemia cells. Glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhizic acid also put the brakes on the formation of tumours in skin, colon, liver, uterine and breast cancers.
This use of licorice has not been widely tested in humans, but one herbal prostate-cancer formula that contained licorice, PC-SPES (which is no longer available), was shown in human studies to slow the progression of some prostate cancers. Certainly, licorice is no substitute for conventional cancer therapy, but scientists think it has potential.
There are other health benefits being looked at into the future, too. It looks like licorice could be a mainstay in medicine’s arsenal of infection-fighters. A 2010 University of Texas study revealed that glycyrrhizin helps damaged skin create bacteria-fighting proteins called antimicrobial peptides, which are an important defense against infection. This could lead to treatments to counter antibiotic-resistant infections, such as those that sometimes occur in severe burns and can be fatal.
Perhaps most surprisingly, this sweet root could even be a dentist’s dream. Two licorice compounds, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, have been shown, in lab studies, to kill off 2 major types of cavity-causing bacteria and 3 types of bacteria that fuel gum disease.
Licorice may be good for the brain, too. During a 2004 study at the University of Edinburgh, older men took a licorice extract containing the compound carbenoxolone and their verbal memory and fluency (the ability to put thoughts into words), improved. Why is that? Carbenoxolone seems to help by inhibiting a brain enzyme that helps make stress hormones, which contribute to age-related brain changes. Scientists say more research is needed but that a growing stack of lab research backs licorice’s potential for memory enhancement. In a mouse study, for example, animals that received licorice extract excelled at learning and memory.