Long prized in both Eastern and Western folk medicine traditions, licorice imparts unique flavor to foods while supporting diverse aspects of overall wellness such as:
What is Licorice?
For thousands of years, traditional health practitioners in cultures across Asia and the Mediterranean have used the roots of Glycyrrhiza glabra—a member of the pea family—to assist with a variety of health and wellness issues. Also known as sweet root, this purple- and white-flowering plant is widely used in culinary applications, as well. Supplying a substance called glycyrrhizin that’s almost 50 times sweeter than table sugar, the root is a popular flavoring agent worldwide in a diverse array of candies, confections, liquors, lozenges and drinks.
The root is one of the oldest and most significant botanicals in traditional Chinese health practices. In this health system, the root is used to “harmonize” ingredients and to protect the stomach from side effects that may be caused by other herbals. Chinese practitioners believe the herb helps to strengthen Qi, or life force, while modulating heat force in the body. Asian folk healers would employ the herb to assist with digestive distress and inflammatory skin problems. In ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian health traditions, the root was valued for its ability to soothe digestive tract and throat discomfort. Indian Ayurvedic folk health practices also prominently feature the herb as a tonic for overall wellness, with specific applications for headaches along with digestive, respiratory and joint health.**
Modern scientific investigations support many of the traditional uses of this versatile botanical. Studies indicate that licorice has cardio-supportive properties that help to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. The herb’s flavonoids have been found to help regulate blood glucose levels and modulate LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. In addition, the root has delivers inflammation-modulating and antioxidant activity that helps to soothe, support and protect the heart and blood vessels. Its potential to influence arterial plaque and platelet clumping has been suggested to promote peak circulation and overall cardiovascular health, as well.**
The root’s inflammation-modulating properties have been found to ease digestive tract discomfort; additional research shows it may help soothe and heal peptic ulcers. Its active compounds enhance digestion by stimulating the body to produce gastric mucosa, which naturally coats and protects the esophagus, stomach and intestines. Some research has suggested it may assist with irritable digestive issues, promote healthy stool consistency, and support comfortable elimination. It has been shown to assist with the gastrointestinal discomfort and damage that is sometimes associated with taking aspirin.**
The herb acts as an expectorant and soothes the respiratory tract, offering relief from coughing by thinning and reducing mucus production. It is a popular wellness remedy for sore throat; this application is rooted in both Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic wellness practices. Research shows that licorice supports the body’s natural product of interferon, a substance that enhances immune system function. Licorice’s antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties further reinforce its reputation for supporting immune system wellness.**
The botanical shows promise for promoting wellness in a number of other areas, including liver health, adrenal health, mood balance, hormonal wellness, and, as a topical application, for easing the scaling and flaking of inflammatory skin problems.**
Supplements are available in several forms, including chewable supplements, tablets, liquids, wafers, lozenges, teas, and creams for topical use. Supplements present the herb’s rich concentrations of flavonoids, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, antioxidants and inflammation-modulators. One compound called glycyrrhizin, when taken in large amounts or for extended periods, may cause fluid retention and increased blood pressure. To avoid these effects, some supplements have the substance removed and are labeled as “De-Glycyrrhizinated” or DGL.**
Licorice Directions for Use
A typical dosage of non-DGL is 5 to 15 g per day for a short duration of a few weeks; for long-term use, the recommended dosage is no more than .3 g per day. For DGL, the typical dosage is 350 mg to 400 mg of a 10:1 extract, taken two to four times per day. Always consult a medical provider before starting supplementation.**