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Licorice Root Is Not Just A Sweet Treat

Liquorice ( Glycyrrhiza glabra ) plant and flower You might think of licorice as a popular ingredient of confectionery or candy but pure licorice root is actually an effective herbal medicine that has been used for centuries. Glycyrrhizin, one of the active components in licorice root, is fifty times sweeter than sugar and gives licorice its characteristic taste. Effective - but licorice should be taken with caution in some cases. Licorice is sometimes known as liquorice. Often overlooked, this natural treatment has a long list of conditions for which it has been used.

Here is that list

Asthma, athlete’s foot, canker sores, chronic exhaustion, melancholy, influenza, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver troubles, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, arthritis, tuberculosis, ulcers and yeast infections. The chemicals found in licorice root are thought to decrease swelling, thin down mucus secretions, decrease coughs while increasing the chemicals in our body that heal ulcers. Studies have shown that licorice helps the liver neutralise toxins and can be beneficial in treating liver disorders such as hepatitis. It is reported to significantly ease pre-menstrual tension or PMS.

There are other important properties too

  • Demulcent (this means it can have a soothing effect on contact).
  • Anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial.
  • Natural laxative.
  • Adaptogen tonic (increases resistance to the effects of physical, mental and emotional stress).
  • Hepatoprotective for protecting the liver.
  • Antioxidant and anti-tumor.
  • Hormonal regulation.

How can you take licorice?

1. Licorice tea is the most popular way. Drink one cup of licorice tea each day to enhance adrenal function and increase your energy level. If you wish to improve the taste, add a teaspoon of organic honey or a cinnamon stick. Licorice tea has anti-inflammatory properties that may ease the pain of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Licorice tea is used to treat low blood pressure. 2. Take 300 milligrams to 400 milligrams of chewable deglycyrrhizinated licorice (or DGL) twenty minutes before eating to enhance digestion and help to prevent heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. 3. Gargle with a solution of licorice root powder and purified water to help relieve the discomfort of a sore throat and mouth sores. 4. Dab some root powder on a canker sore to relieve pain and shorten the healing time. 5. Apply licorice gel to the skin three times a day to treat the painful complications of shingles and prevent the spread of varicella-zoster, the infectious virus responsible for both shingles and chicken pox.

What about side effects?

Just a word of warning that the long-term use of licorice can raise blood pressure, cause water retention and lower potassium levels. Also, licorice root is unsafe for people who take diuretics, insulin, steroid therapies or MAO inhibitors while pregnant or nursing mothers should avoid taking licorice for medicinal purposes. Because licorice root is said to be so powerful, many health care practitioners recommend that its use be limited to 3 cups a day for a period of not more than four weeks. Licorice tea is a natural laxative so obviously too much can upset normal bowel functions. Just be careful to look for licorice from reputable sources as many “licorice” products manufactured in the U.S. actually don't contain any licorice. Instead, they contain anise oil, which has the characteristic smell and taste of “black licorice.”