Health Benefits of Licorice Roots: A Comprehensive Guide to Licorice

by | Apr 24, 2024 | Blog, Health & Wellness

Licorice root exhibits diverse biological and pharmacological properties, notably anti-inflammatory and immune-regulating effects.

What is Licorice Root?

Throughout history, licorice roots have played a prominent role in various cultures and traditions, valued for their sweet flavor and diverse medicinal benefits. Ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, recognized the healing properties of licorice roots and incorporated them into herbal remedies and culinary preparations.

In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, licorice roots are esteemed for their rejuvenating properties and ability to balance the body’s energy systems. Similarly, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), licorice roots are revered as a harmonizing herb that enhances the efficacy of other botanical ingredients in herbal formulas.

Medicinal Properties

Licorice roots contain a wealth of bioactive compounds, including glycyrrhizin, flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides, which contribute to their diverse therapeutic effects. Glycyrrhizin, the primary active component of licorice roots, possesses anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties, making it a valuable remedy for a range of health conditions.

Licorice roots contain a wealth of bioactive compounds, including glycyrrhizin, flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides, which contribute to their diverse therapeutic effects. Glycyrrhizin, the primary active component of licorice roots, possesses anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties, making it a valuable remedy for a range of health conditions.

Additionally, licorice roots contain flavonoids such as liquiritin and isoliquiritin, which exhibit potent antioxidant activity and support cellular health. Saponins found in licorice roots have been shown to have immune-modulating effects, enhancing the body’s defense mechanisms against infections and diseases.

Licorice harbors numerous bioactive compounds contributing to its broad spectrum of pharmacological effects. The primary triterpenoid saponin, glycyrrhizin, is extensively researched for its anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, liver protective, and antiviral properties. Additionally, licorice flavonoids like glabridin and isoliquiritigenin (ISL) offer various health benefits, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antitumor activities. [1]

Licorice exhibits noteworthy therapeutic potential due to its anti-androgenic and estrogenic effects, particularly in managing conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) alongside spironolactone therapy. [2]

Most of the active compounds present in licorice root fall into the categories of triterpenoids and flavonoids. Numerous studies indicate that licorice is rich in proteins, pectins, resins, starches, sterols, gums, simple sugars, polysaccharides, and mineral salts. [3]

In addition to tannins, licorice root contains phytosterols like sitosterol and stigmasterol, coumarins, vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, E, and C, and glycosides. It also contains nutrients like pantothenic acid, lecithin, biotin, niacin, manganese, calcium, calcium salts, proteins, and nucleic acids, all of which may contribute to wound healing. [4]

Health Benefits

The holistic benefits of licorice roots extend to various aspects of health and wellness, offering support for the digestive, respiratory, immune, and adrenal systems.

The holistic benefits of licorice roots extend to various aspects of health and wellness, offering support for the digestive, respiratory, immune, and adrenal systems. Some key health benefits of licorice roots include:

  • Digestive Support: Licorice roots soothe inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, alleviate symptoms of indigestion and heartburn, and support healthy digestion.
  • Respiratory Health: Licorice roots possess expectorant properties that help relieve coughs and respiratory congestion, making them beneficial for conditions such as colds, flu, and bronchitis.
  • Immune Enhancement: The immune-modulating effects of licorice roots bolster the body’s natural defense mechanisms, helping to prevent infections and support overall immune function.
  • Anti-inflammatory Action: Licorice roots have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, making them useful for managing conditions such as arthritis, allergies, and skin inflammation.
  • Stress Resilience: Licorice roots contain adaptogenic compounds that support adrenal health and help the body adapt to stress, promoting resilience and vitality.
  • Licorice has shown promise in treating polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), particularly due to its anti-androgen properties. When used alongside spironolactone, licorice can be especially beneficial. Spironolactone not only blocks mineralocorticoid receptors but also acts as an androgen receptor antagonist, impacting the production of sex hormones from both the ovaries and adrenal glands.

This dual action makes spironolactone effective in managing PCOS symptoms like hirsutism, acne, and hair loss. However, its anti-mineralocorticoid effects can lead to side effects such as hypotension and hyperkalemia, which may be concerning for some patients during treatment. [5]

  • Licorice demonstrates potential in combating dental decay, reducing inflammation, and aiding in the healing process of certain oral ailments when incorporated into mouthwashes or applied as bio-adhesive patches. Although promising, further clinical trials and research are required to confirm its efficacy, unlock its complete therapeutic benefits, and develop standardized treatment guidelines. [6]

Application and Safety Considerations

Licorice roots are available in various forms, including teas, capsules, extracts, and topical preparations, allowing for flexible and convenient usage. When using licorice supplements, it is essential to follow recommended dosages and guidelines to minimize the risk of potential side effects.

Licorice roots are available in various forms, including teas, capsules, extracts, and topical preparations, allowing for flexible and convenient usage. When using licorice supplements, it is essential to follow recommended dosages and guidelines to minimize the risk of potential side effects.

Prolonged or excessive consumption of licorice roots may lead to adverse effects such as hypertension, potassium depletion, and hormonal imbalances, particularly in susceptible individuals.

As with any herbal remedy, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating licorice roots into your wellness regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Licorice roots stand as a testament to the enduring power of nature’s remedies in promoting health and vitality. By harnessing the therapeutic potential of licorice roots, individuals can embark on a journey towards holistic well-being, nurturing their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Whether seeking relief from digestive discomfort, respiratory issues, immune challenges, or stress-related concerns, licorice roots offer a natural and effective solution for supporting optimal health and vitality. With mindfulness and moderation, licorice roots can serve as invaluable allies in the quest for lifelong wellness, enriching lives and inspiring a renewed sense of vitality and resilience.

Sources:

  1. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; 2006–. Licorice. 2021 Apr 19. PMID: 30000900.
  2. Sabbadin C, Bordin L, Donà G, Manso J, Avruscio G, Armanini D. Licorice: From Pseudohyperaldosteronism to Therapeutic Uses. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019 Jul 18;10:484. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2019.00484. PMID: 31379750; PMCID: PMC6657287.
  3. AlDehlawi H, Jazzar A. The Power of Licorice (Radix glycyrrhizae) to Improve Oral Health: A Comprehensive Review of Its Pharmacological Properties and Clinical Implications. Healthcare (Basel). 2023 Nov 2;11(21):2887. doi: 10.3390/healthcare11212887. PMID: 37958031; PMCID: PMC10648065.
  4. Jain R, Hussein MA, Pierce S, Martens C, Shahagadkar P, Munirathinam G. Oncopreventive and oncotherapeutic potential of licorice triterpenoid compound glycyrrhizin and its derivatives: Molecular insights. Pharmacol Res. 2022 Apr;178:106138. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2022.106138. Epub 2022 Feb 19. PMID: 35192957; PMCID: PMC8857760.

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