The often overlooked but still incredible health benefits of licorice
Licorice has a very pleasing sugary taste mainly thanks to a compound called glycyrrhizic acid which is roughly 50 times sweeter than sugar. The licorice root does have many known health benefits and has been used for a very long time to treat a variety of medical conditions such as chronic exhaustion, influenza, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gout, heartburn, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver troubles and many more.
Licorice’s most important and active compounds are named glycyrrhiza, amorfrutins, liquiritigenin and liquiritin. Liquiritigenin and liquiritin act in the system as antioxidants and work to get rid of free radicals while also reinforcing the immune system. On the other hand, glycyrrhiza and amorfrutins can be helpful to remove excess mucus, normalize blood sugar levels and to some extent limit inflammation.
Back in 2009, the International Immunopharmacology journal described how researchers found that the licorice root’s flavonoids were quite effective in inhibiting the proliferation of unwanted candida.
Licorice has the ability to control type 2 diabetes
Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics did some tests on mice suffering from type 2 diabetes in order to study the effects of amorfrutins, which is found in licorice. They noticed that the mice ended up with reduced blood sugar levels and less inflammation when this compound was given to them. They also noted that amorfrutins seemed to halt the development fatty liver, which is often the result of a high-fat diet or simply a consequence from type 2 diabetes. The belief is that amorfrutins bind with nuclear receptors known as PPARy, which then triggers certain genes that limit fatty acids or glucose from accumulating in the blood stream.
Taking into account that traditional Chinese medicine often uses licorice to detoxify the effects of some herbs within a herbal preparation, South Korean researchers decided to study its detoxifying effects on rats undergoing a chemotherapy treatment, with doxorubicin being used as an anti-neoplastic agent. The main objective was to attempt limiting cardiotoxicity with the licorice extract,s but it turned out that not only was cytotoxicity controlled in the rats’ cardiac myoblasts, but the extracts seemed to also reduce the amount of colon cancer cells, prostate cells and breast cancer cells.
Even the American Cancer Society has recognized in the past that various laboratory studies showed that some compounds of licorice had the ability to prevent DNA mutations, repress tumor formation and basically kill cancer cells.
Last but not least, both the University of Maryland and a study published inObesity Research & Clinical Practice demonstrated how licorice’s glycyrrhetinic acid was quite effective at reducing fat, weight and LDL cholesterol levels.
If you intend to take licorice extracts, consuming less than 5 grams a day is a much safer alternative for those with high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney disease or liver disorders.