The licorice root is well known among herbalists for all the numerous benefits it can offer. It is particularly popular in traditional Chinese medicine where it goes by the name Gan Zao or Gancao and is used in 79% or more of the preparations. Licorice extract, which can be produced by boiling the licorice root, is sweeter than sucrose and has medicinal properties because of the presence of glycyrrhizin, which is an artificial sweetener.
While licorice flavor is used predominantly in various types of confectionaries and candies, the root provides us with some amazing benefits, making it a highly valued herbal medicine. Typically, licorice is grown in Turkey, Asia, and Greece and has been used in Eastern and Western medicine over the ages.
Licorice roots resemble wrinkled fibrous wood which grow horizontally under the ground. These are brown on the outside and yellow on the inside, and typically, the roots and the underground stems are used in the preparation of various licorice products.
In Chinese medicine, licorice is known to replenish Qi and clears toxic elements caused by heat. It contains magnesium, silicon, and thiamine, and has numerous benefits.
Benefits of licorice root
Both Eastern and Western medicine have made good use of the licorice root in different preparations. Listed below are some of the benefits provided by the licorice root and how it can help us:
- Licorice has been traditionally used as a dietary supplement for people suffering from stomach ulcers, bronchitis, and sore throat. Hepatitis, which is caused by a virus, can also be cured with the help of licorice, and this is usually advocated by herbalists in Japan.
- Licorice is also known to boost the functioning of the endocrine system and ensures better working of the hormones. In particular, the licorice root is known to enhance the working of the adrenal glands and help in the release of cortisol, which is also the body’s main stress fighting hormone. As a result, licorice root can even help the body combat chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia by ensuring the better release of cortisol.
- Licorice has antifungal and antibacterial properties which make it an excellent choice for preventing related diseases such as vaginal yeast infections.
- In some traditional medicines, licorice is used as a blood cleanser to detoxify the blood.
- People who have hemorrhoids have benefited from the intake of licorice as an herbal medicine.
- Another use of licorice is for ulcers which occur in the digestive tract, as it stimulates the growth of the stomach lining, increases blood flow to damaged tissues, and lowers the occurrence of muscle spasms.
- In Chinese medicine, licorice is used to remove phlegm from the lungs by dissolving the mucus. Also, Chinese physicians believed that the stomach and spleen are the source of energy for the whole body, and the stomach Qi has to remain harmonious for the body to remain healthy. Licorice root is believed to be greatly helpful in restoring and replenishing the Qi.
- Respiratory ailments such as congestion, colds, sore throats, and allergies are usually treated with licorice root by most practitioners of alternative medicine.
- Everyone today knows the importance of antioxidants because they help prevent oxidation and help prevent cancer. Licorice root is known to contain different types of flavonoids which are known to be rather strong antioxidants and can thus be used in the fight against cancer.
- Licorice extract is a very good liver tonic and is thought to be a ‘harmonizing’ herb because it balances the toxicity of other herbs and enhances their efficacy. The best part is that it helps disguise the bitter taste of other herbs with its inherent sweetness.
Anything taken in excess is bound to create problems and cause side effects. In large doses, licorice can cause high blood pressure, low potassium levels, and water retention, which in turn could lead to heart problems. High amounts of licorice can affect the production of cortisol in the body, and if there is an eating disorder, it could get worse because of the low concentration of potassium in the body.
As always, it is advisable for pregnant and nursing women not to take licorice root since it may increase the chances of preterm labor.
Licorice root can be consumed as a crushed root, where about 5 to 15 gms should suffice based on your requirements. If it is the extract that you want to take, then 1 gm for throat inflammations should be enough, while 3 gms ought to be sufficient for ulcers.
Another option for licorice root is to take it in the form of tea, and one cup after a meal is a good idea. Furthermore, licorice root can be peeled, dried, and powdered for consumption, while supplements such as tablets, capsules, and extracts are also a good idea.
Even if you are looking for remedies in alternative medicine, it is a good idea to opt for someone who is certified and can provide you with an option that is correct for you.