The Science Behind Our Supplements

All You Need To Know About Licorice Roots

It is considered one of the oldest herbal remedies globally, but just in case you missed the memo, here is all you need to know about licorice roots. It’s only right to put it out there that broth made from licorice root was referred to as ‘drink of the gods’ – and for a good reason. It was made into a drink for Egyptian Pharaohs for medicinal purposes. While you may not need to be royalty to access this drink today, you must know the amazing health benefits you stand to gain from licorice roots. 

A Bridge In The Past And The Present

Licorice is native to southern Europe and western Asia and has been used as an herbal remedy in traditional medicine for several years. Historians have also traced the use of licorice roots to Chinese and Greek conventional medicine and even to the middle east. Today, licorice roots have been made into drinks, drugs, and even flavored candies – no matter your preference, there is a type that suits you!

In traditional medicine, licorice root was used to treat stomach issues and upper respiratory conditions. In today’s world, it is used to treat these same conditions and new ones. These new conditions include, among others, coughs, acid reflux, sore throat, hot flashes, viral and bacterial infections. It is also used topically to treat acne and eczema. 

Interestingly, with all the history associated with licorice roots, there is little evidence from research to support some of the claims on its medicinal uses. Additionally, licorice roots may have some health risks, which is advised that users are aware of. 

Potential Benefits

Although it contains many bioactive compounds, most of the health benefits of licorice root result from its primary active compound, glycyrrhizin. This compound is responsible for the sweet taste of licorice and also for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In contrast, glycyrrhizin is also responsible for the adverse effects of licorice roots. Due to this, some processed licorice medication contains deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). In any case, here are some potential benefits of licorice roots. 

Acid Reflux And Indigestion

Research has shown that licorice root medication can treat indigestion symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux. Extracts from the roots can also reduce the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Studies also confirmed an earlier claim that licorice root has better output than antacids, especially when taken over a long period. 

It is important to note that licorice rice is an adjunct to other medications prescribed for these conditions. Thus, it is not meant to replace conventional treatment options totally. 

Skin Conditions

As the beauty and cosmetic industry gets more mainstream hype and stage light, the need to keep up with a perfect skin free from all blemishes has also increased. There are millions of people living with skin conditions who intend to clear them off. For this set of people, licorice might be the solution.  

There are over 300 bioactive compounds in the licorice root, most of which have antibacterial and antiviral effects. As a result, these effects can be harnessed in treating certain skin conditions like acne and eczema. Although research on the topical use of licorice to treat skin conditions is quite limited, there are several reports of improvement after usage. 

You can give it a try. Who knows, it might just be what you need for a perfect skin tone!

Anticancer Properties

Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the world. Needless to say that several research is ongoing to find a permanent way to destroy tumors and treat cancerous cells. In the meantime, licorice extracts have been studied, and results have shown appreciable protective effects from certain types of cancer. 

More studies are still needed to ascertain the extent to which this protection extends to, but for now, we know it slows and prevents cancer growth in the skin, breast, colorectal, and prostate. 

Upper Respiratory Conditions

Most upper respiratory conditions are usually a result of irritation and inflammation. Thus, with the several bioactive compounds in licorice roots, most of which have anti-inflammatory properties, it helps treat some of these conditions. 

Pieces of evidence from research have revealed that glycyrrhizin may help manage asthma, especially when added to a modern treatment plan. 

Peptic Ulcers

Anyone who ever had an ulcer or even an ulcer flare would know how painful it is. In any case, peptic ulcers are sores that could develop in the stomach or small intestine. Extract from the licorice root may help treat this condition better than omeprazole, the conventional medicine used. 

In any case, more research is still needed, but we do know that the incidence of H. pylori can be significantly reduced with glycyrrhizin.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has certified licorice roots to be safe for food use. Notwithstanding, since the FDA does not test for purity and accuracy of ingredient labeling, users are usually advised to take necessary caution. 

It is also important to note that short-term use of licorice root is considered safe. But, long-term use, especially with large doses, may produce adverse effects. 

An overdose of licorice roots will lead to a concentrated level of glycyrrhizin in the body. This concentrated level is known to cause an abnormal increase in cortisol in the body. Asides from this effect on cortisol, it may also trigger a cascade of events. Some of these include low potassium levels, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and muscle weakness. Although it is rare, it is possible for licorice poisoning to occur. If it does, it may cause kidney failure, pulmonary edema, and congestive heart failure. 

Additionally, it is not advised that women take licorice root or its extract during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it can interfere with the child’s brain development. 

Take-Home Message from All You Need to Know About Licorice Roots

Now you understand why you need to grab all you need to know about licorice roots. Even though it has several health benefits that you may want to try out, you must consult your healthcare provider before doing so. Just in case you intend to skip that vital step, read the ‘potential side effects’ again, and have a rethink. Stay safe! 

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