Licorice – Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

Liquorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, sweet root

Useful Parts of the Plant: Leaves, roots

Licorice is a perennial shrub.  It is native to Asia and Southern parts of Europe. Today, it is cultivated in most parts of the world owing to its excellent medicinal properties. The plant grows up to a height of nearly 1 to 1.5 meters. Its leaves are small, and they resemble those of a tamarind tree. The licorice plant bears purple or whitish blue flowers, which are usually 1 to 1.2 cm long. Its roots are sweet in a taste and have a specific pleasant flavor. Licorice roots are long and round and grow horizontally below the ground. These roots look like pieces of fibrous wood, which are brown from outside and deep yellow inside.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Licorice

In addition to its main constituent namely glycyzzhizin, other constituents of licorice root are amino acids, several amines, polysaccharide sterol known as B-sitosterol, choline, and betaine. These constituents contribute to its unique medicinal values. Licorice also contains a number of other nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B complex. It also has  important antioxidants such as zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, and several phytochemicals. The licorice plant root contains a unique chemical compound known as glycyzzhizin. This compound is responsible for its sweet taste and the unique flavor. Licorice has been in use since the ancient times because of its medicinal and culinary properties. It has been widely used in confectionary and for flavoring various recipes.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

  • Liquorice has excellent expectorant properties. It can be used to cure a common cold or a cough. All you need is a cup of Liquorice tea two or three times a day. Liquorice tea also facilitates immediate relief in the case of an asthma attack. The preparation of Liquorice tea is simple. You only need to boil 2 to 5 grams in one glass of water. Let it boil until the water reduces to ¾ of the glass. You then strain the liquid and it is ready to drink.
  • Licorice root tea greatly helps in boosting your immune system too. Regular intake helps your immune system combat several common and chronic ailments and diseases such as malaria, the flu, bronchitis, hepatitis, herpes, and tuberculosis.
  • Regular intake of licorice  root tea is also helpful for weight loss, chronic gastritis, liver disorders, and heartburn.
  • Licorice is also commonly used for the treatment of stomach ulcers.
  • There has been considerable research to show that licorice, when given intravenously, helps relieve the symptoms of hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  • Licorice is supposed to prevention and management of prostate cancer as it helps to reverse the enlargement of the prostate.
  • Licorice also helps treat infertility in men as well as women.
  • Licorice extract is an excellent stimulant that helps relieve tiredness and fatigue. It can be used in the management of chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Licorice also helps treat a variety of skin afflictions, including dermatitis and eczema.
  • Licorice serves to stimulate the entire muscular system and also helps relieve muscle cramps. It has also been known to cure the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatic fever.
  • Licorice extract may also be used to treat heartburn or dyspepsia. It may be used along with other herbal extract, including those of peppermint and chamomile.
  • Licorice also helps prevent and treat irritable bowel syndrome. It smoothens the lining of stomach and improves bowel function.
  • Licorice may also be used to inhibit the activity of tyrosine, a hormone that may cause melisma or skin darkening.
  • Intake of licorice root extract is recommended for patients on dialysis, as it helps prevent hyperkalemia, which is a raise on concentration of potassium ions in blood.
  • Licorice also stimulates the endocrine gland, which helps maintain the overall physiology of the body.

Other Uses of Licorice

  • Licorice is a natural sweetener and may be used in place of sugar.
  • Licorice is also used as a flavoring agent in tobacco products.