Licorice is best known in the United States and Europe as a flavored candy and flavoring for food, recipes, and tobacco. However, for thousands of years, licorice has been one of the herbs in Chinese medicine that has been known to promote longevity in humans. Traditionally used for respiratory and skin issues, it has also been used as a detox aid for your digestive tract and your colon.
As an expectorant, the herb helps loosen phlegm and ease non-productive coughs associated with bronchitis, congestion, allergies, and colds. Licorice root is actually an effective ingredient in many cough medicines and cough drops.
Licorice root has also been used as an anti-inflammatory in treating arthritis, rheumatism, and painful joints. Studies have shown that the herb stimulates the production of cortisone and aldosterone, which seem to be effective anti-inflammatory agents.
In addition to acting as an expectorant and anti-inflammatory, licorice root is a wonderful aid in maintaining good digestion and a healthy digestive tract. The herb soothes the mucous membranes and protects the interior of the stomach and intestinal lining. The mucus that licorice root coats the stomach with may be linked to the prevention of certain diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, and Gastritis. Licorice root is also known to be ancient, for of a mild laxative that is known to cleanse the colon. In addition to the colon, experts believe that licorice root is also great for the bladder and the kidneys.
Licorice root can be taken in a capsule, pills powder, liquid or tea. You can find licorice root and licorice extract at your local vitamin shop or health foods store. You can also find many products where licorice is an active ingredient and you can still get great health benefits without consuming it. Many skin creams contain licorice because it contains a component called glycyrrhizinate, which makes a great anti-inflammatory, moisturizer and it also contains antioxidants. Some skin creams contain this component and can help in soothing skin pigments or whiten dark spots. If you are looking for a product that contains licorice root, remember that the lower the ingredient is on the ingredients list, the amount used in the product is far less.
As with any natural herb, there are possible side effects that may occur. You should consult with your primary care physician before adding any natural herb as a supplement to your daily diet and routine. Licorice has been known in some cases to raise blood pressure levels and can also cause water and sodium retention. Individuals who suffer from hypertension should avoid licorice root. Even though licorice appears to be helpful for ailments like the common cold and allergies, it should be taken in moderation and not in large doses on a regular basis. It has also been shown that certain amounts of potassium can be lost from the body when individuals consume licorice. Licorice root should also be avoided by women who are currently pregnant.
Amna Sheikh is a medical doctor with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Bachelors in Economics and Statistics. She is also a medical writer working as a freelancer for 10+ years and she is specialized in medical, health, and pharmaceutical writing, regulatory writing & clinical research. All her work is supported by a strong academic and professional experience.