Herbal Supplements
Licorice Root and Its Health Benefits
Biological Description
Native to southern Europe and parts of Asia, licorice (also liquorice) root is a legume plant (related to peas and beans). The plant (from Ancient Greek - 'sweet root') is a herbaceous perennial with pinnate leaves around 8-15 cm long with 9–17 leaflets and purple flowers of 0.8–1.2 cm long. The fruit is a pod of a prolonged shape containing several seeds; it is usually 2-3 cm long.
Licorice grows best on sandy damp soil - near streams, rivers and other water sources. It prefers rich fine soil of bottom lands in river valleys with the abundance of moisture during the growing period. Dry heat in late summer is favorable for the formation of the sweet constituents in the root.
Parts Used
Glycyrrhizic acid is the substance extracted from the licorice root. It is used for making powder, teas and tonics, extracts, tinctures and decoctions.
Licorice extracts are used as a flavoring in food, tobacco, alcohol, and cosmetics. Peeled licorice root is available in dried and powdered forms. The herb is also available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. The most popular licorice product is a candy made of the sweet content of the extracts.
Licorice contains vitamin E, B-complex, pantothenic acid, lecithin, biotin, niacin, manganese and other trace elements. Sweet, white crystalline powder extracted from licorice root, glycyrrhizin (more than 50 times as sweet as sucrose), consists of the calcium and potassium salts of glycyrrhizic acid. Other substances found in the root are, protein, fat, starch, gum resin, asparagin, tannin, yellow coloring matter and a small amount of volatile oil. These active components provide licorice with tonic and immunity-enhancing properties. Licorice also contains chemicals called triterpenoids. Numerous studies suggest that they can be effective against cancer by blocking the production of prostaglandin, the hormone-like fatty acid that stimulates the growth of cancer cells.
Health Benefits
Despite the fact that licorice has been for centuries used as flavoring, its medicinal qualities are also known and used by the herbalists. The plant is effective for coughs and sore throat. Modern cough syrups often include licorice extract as an ingredient. It is useful in treating inflammatory stomach conditions (licorice increases the production of protective mucus in the stomach which reduces acid secretion), ulcers, adrenal insufficiencies such as hypoglycemia and Addison's disease; rejuvenates heart and spleen, purifies the liver and bloodstream. Licorice root is also successfully used for skin conditions. The herb is known to be effective for counteracting stress and treating depression.
2013-07-19 12:29:08
I have learned that you need to limit your usage to two weeks. You can resume usage after a certain time; I think it has to do with your body's dependence on it. It badly effects people with high blood pressure. Also, even with the "candy" you should never overindulge in.
2009-05-03 23:53:31
You make no mention here of toxicity or contraindications. Licorice in particular will cause problems very easily, especially if the person has high blood pressure. Please do your research and include this.
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