The remarkable health benefits of licorice
Licorice has also been shown to improve symptoms of throat and lung irritations and coughs, urinary tract infections, adrenal fatigue, immune deficiencies, allergies, ulcers, liver disorders and adrenal stress. Excema and other dermatological issues are also seen to improve with licorice root.
Licorice is called the “sweet root” and contains a compound that is fifty times sweeter than sugar. This intense sweetness is due to glycyrrhizic acid which contains two sugar moieties. Glycyrrhiza helps the body remove excessive mucous and helps promote prostaglandins and other factors that protect key barriers in the stomach, intestines and respiratory tract.
The active ingredients contained within licorice are glycyrrhiza and the anti-oxidant flavonoids liquiritigenin and liquiritin. These ingredients help to improve blood sugar signaling, reduce inflammation and improve overall immunity.
Glycrrhiza helps individuals with adrenal fatigue
Glycyrrhiza has been shown to slow the breakdown of cortisol so that it can stay longer in the bloodstream. This helps to balance the blood sugar levels which is particularly important for people with adrenal fatigue and hypoglycemic tendencies.
This compound also mimics aldosteronism (high levels of the hormone aldosterone) which increases sodium reabsorption and potassium excretion by the kidneys. This raises blood pressure which is usually very low in individuals with adrenal fatigue. Due to the diuretic properties this exhibits it should not be used by individuals who are taking other diuretics. Obviously individuals with hypertension should not use licorice root.
Licorice root and immunity
A study published in a 2009 edition of International immunopharmacology demonstrated the effectiveness of licorice root on Candiasis. The compounds within licorice that have the most immunomodulatory effects are the flavonoid anti-oxidants liquiritigenin and liquiritin. This study demonstrated the powerful Th1 immune stimulation that these compounds provided in an effort to reduce the Candida growth.
Liquiritigenin has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects through its inhibition of Nuclear Factor – Kappa Beta (NF-kB) activation in macrophages. This process decreases the production of proinflammatory cytokines and inflammatory gene induction. A 2008 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that liquiritigenin inhibited lipopolysaccharide and carrageened induced inflammatory processes.
Glycyrrhiza has been shown to reduce the transport to the membrane and sialylation of the hepatitis B virus surface antigen. It also reduces the membrane fluidity leading to the inhibition of fusion of the viral membrane of the HIV-1 with the cell. It also reduces viral latency and inhibits the phosphorylating enzymes in the viral infection.
Contraindications to using licorice:
Licorice should not be used in cases of high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease and liver disorders. This is due to the effects it has on sodium and potassium levels which could aggravate individuals who have issues with hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias. Someone who has been using licorice for a long time should wean themselves off slowly.
Glycyrrhiza potentiates the activity of anthraquinone drugs (laxatives) and herbs with this compound such as cascara and buckthorn. Any other laxative type of substances like aloe vera, castor oil, rhubarb and senna will have a heightened effect with licorice. It also disrupts corticosteroid metabolism and increases these drugs half-life. So anyone on heart medications, blood thinning meds, blood pressure meds, laxatives and corticosteroids should not use licoricee without consulting their doctor first.
Very high doses of licorice are considered anything over 20 grams daily. If one has any of the contraindications above they should always consume less than five grams daily. There is a form of licorice called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) which is much safer for those with contraindications as listed above.
Here are the best dosages to take licorice in:
• Dried root: 1 – 5 g as an infusion or decoction (boiled), 3 times daily
• Licorice 1:5 tincture: 2 – 5 mL, 3 times daily
• Standardized extract: 250 – 500 mg, 3 times daily, standardized to contain 20% glycyrrhizinic acid
• DGL extract: 0.4 – 1.6 g, 3 times daily, for peptic ulcer
• DGL extract 4:1: chew 300 – 400 mg, 3 times daily 20 minutes before meals, for peptic ulcer
Don’t use these doses of licorice for longer than a week without talking to your doctor due to the risk of potentially dangerous side effects.
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