Licorice or licorice root is plant that originated from the Mediterranean countries, Russia, some Asian countries, and Iran. It is part of the Leguminosae family. Because of the numerous health benefits that this plant could provide, many countries from Europe and Middle East have also grown this herb and so the many licorice species have become available. The sweet root of licorice is almost 50 times sweeter than sugar.
The licorice root has been used for over centuries now for medicine and culinary purposes. During the times of ancient Egypt, bottles of liquid with licorice contents were brought by soldiers at the battlefield to help them quench their thirst and get the important nutrients from this plant.
It has similar flavor with anise and fennel but they don’t belong to the same plant family. In fact, some products you can find in the market that are said to have licorice content actually have anise or fennel in it. That is why it is important to check on the label to understand the content of the product better.
Glycyrrhizin acid can be found in licorice and this compound is very good as home remedy in treating several health conditions. However, this compound is potentially harmful if taken in large amounts. That is why proper dosage must be monitored to avoid complications and negative effects.
The Many Health Benefits You Can Get From Licorice Root
Below is the list of the numerous uses and health benefits one can get from taking licorice root. This can be a great natural remedy or substitute from chemical-based over the counter medicines.
Note: Too much intake of licorice root can cause pseudoaldosteronism, or a condition which makes a person very sensitive to hormones in the adrenal cortex. It could cause headache, high blood pressure, and even heart attack. Always make sure that the recommended dosage is followed. Pregnant women must not take licorice root extracts as well as mother who are breastfeeding their babies as licorice can be passed on the milk.
1. Sore throat, cough, and colds
One of the health benefits that licorice root is known for is its decongestant effect on people suffering from coughs and colds. It also functions as an expectorant to help loosen the phlegm so it is easier to expel. It can also soothe irritated mucous membranes which helps relieve the sore throat associated with cough and colds. This also helps in treating bronchitis.
The antibacterial properties found in licorice roots helps in treating the bacterial infection that causes the cough and colds.
2. Helps in relieving stomach ulcers
The antibacterial properties of licorice root helps in treating stomach ulcers and getting rid of the bacteria responsible for it such as the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria. In Germany, the use of licorice in ulcers is highly approved.
3. Supports the immune system
Licorice has over 400 compounds which include isoliquiritigenin and naringenin. These two compounds are very useful in promoting T cell induction which helps a lot in controlling the responses of our immune system against several diseases like peptic ulcer, viral infection, constipation and others.
4. Helps in treating acid reflux and proper digestion
The important compounds in licorice root are helpful in promoting proper digestion and in soothing the inflammation in the digestive tract. Licorice root works effectively in treating spasms and pains that are the effects of chronic gastritis.
Licorice is also helpful in treating abdominal bloating and excess gas. Other conditions that is treatable by licorice and that are related to this include dyspepsia and impaired digestion. You may combine licorice with other natural home remedies too.
5. Fighting viral infections
Licorice has anti-viral properties that help in combating certain viral diseases like herpes, hepatitis, HIV, SARS, and influenza virus. The compound found in licorice root called the triterpenoids have broad spectrum of antiviral effects which can be used as medicine in treating viral infections.
6. Helps ease constipation
Licorice can be used as a natural laxative to aid better bowel movement because it helps in the contraction of the colon. Based on studies and tests, licorice root can cure chronic constipation better than placebo.
7. Helps in dealing with the symptoms of menopause
Menopause could be a difficult phase in very aging woman’s life because of the symptoms that could affect their health and lifestyle. One of the bothering symptoms of menopause is hot flashes accompanied by night sweats.
This symptom is brought by the hormonal changes in the body as it goes through at this stage where the ovaries stop releasing the estrogen hormone. Licorice root has an effect similar to the effects of estrogen in the body which helps in treating hot flashes and night sweats.
8. Provides adrenal support
Licorice helps out your body in dealing with stress as licorice is considered to be an adaptogenic herb. Taking licorice in proper dosage could help your body in the production and regulation of the cortisol hormone. This takes off some loads in your adrenal glands which will make you feel less stressed.
9. Helps in treating cardiovascular diseases and high levels of cholesterol
Licorice works in promoting and enhancing the flow of the bile which helps in managing the cholesterol levels. This is because bile acids help in eliminating excessive amounts of cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol level is associated to some of the most dreaded cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, licorice root also contains anti-oxidant that enhances the capillary and controls the growth the arterial plaque.
10. Helps treat skin problems
Some of the skin conditions that can be treated using licorice root are eczema, dry and itchy skin, rashes, and psoriasis. Licorice root can be extracted and applied as a topical solution or ointment on the affected skin area. Based on medical research, licorice contains demulcent compounds and its anti-inflammatory effects help in decreasing the appearance and symptoms of eczema (atopic dermatitis). Application of licorice gel or salve must be at least 2 to 3 times per day.
11. Weight management and reduction
A research was made to certain participants of weight reduction program using licorice root extracts wherein all of them must consume 3 grams daily for the duration of 2 months. The test revealed that the participants have lost significant amount of body fat mass.
However, researchers do not agree to use licorice for prolonged period of time to lose weight because of the negative side effects of overdosing. The most recommend period is only for two months but with interval of 1 week time off every two weeks of use within the 2-month timeframe. Make sure to eat a balanced diet together with exercise for faster and better weight reduction effects.
12. Menstrual cramps
The compounds found in licorice root help women deal with the painful cramps during their monthly period. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and estrogen-like effects. Aside from menstrual cramp which is the most common symptoms during menstruation, other symptoms can also be treated such as tenderness of the breast, nausea and bloating, as well as mood swings. You can take licorice roots in the form of tea few days prior to your expected day of menstruation and until your menstruation occurs.
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