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Health Research

6 Health Benefits of Licorice Root [Infographic]

Licorice Root
Licorice root has been used for thousands of years since the time of ancient Egypt. Also known as “sweet root”, the herb contains a compound that is 50 times sweeter than sugar, making it palatable in many tea blends. Researchers indicate that licorice root may help treat digestive problems, enhance memory function, prevent and treat acne, and counter various diseases.
Licorice Root Infographic
What is licorice root?
Licorice root is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs worldwide with a rich and long history of use. The ancient Egyptians were among the first to use it and large quantities of the herb have been found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun for his journey into the afterlife. A number of renowned physicians and botanists from the ancient times including Pliny the Elder and Dioscides have recommended its use to help with stamina and to alleviate thirst. Licorice root is arguably the most extensively used herb in traditional Chinese medicine and is an ingredient in over 5,000 herbal formulas.
Botanical name: Glycyrrhiza glabra
Other names: Russian licorice, Spanish licorice, Turkish licorice, sweet root
Description: A perennial plant that grows to 7 feet tall and has dark leaves, woody stems and cream-colored flowers
Habitat: Native to Europe and Asia but is not widely cultivated around the world
Properties*: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory, neuroprotective
The health benefits of licorice root according to research
1. Digestive Health
Licorice root was traditionally used to treat digestive problems and was used as a gentle laxative for constipation. According to modern research, licorice reduces stomach secretions and helps the body produce mucus to protect the lining of the stomach. These effects make it useful for treating inflammatory stomach conditions. In a study published in the Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal, licorice extract was found to be effective against indigestion and stomach pain.
2. Energy & Brain Support
Research findings suggest that licorice may have anti-inflammatory properties which could help prevent neurodegenerative diseases. These are diseases that result in the degeneration of the nervous system, especially the neurons in the human brain. Examples of neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and brain tumor. An article published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that licorice has shown promise as a memory enhancing agent in all laboratory models employed so far.
3. Hair & Skin Health
According to research studies, licorice has demonstrated antimicrobial activity against acne-causing bacteria and could be helpful for the prevention and treatment of acne lesions. In one particular study led by scientists in Korea, licorice showed remarkable activity against the bacterial P. acnes and resulted in negligible induction of resistance. Researchers believe that the presence of substances such as alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides and terpenoids in licorice may be responsible for its anti-acne activity.
4. Heart and Circulatory Health
Licorice protects the heart by reducing oxidative stress (cell damage caused by oxidation), increasing antioxidants, and restoring function according to animal studies. It may also help in reducing the risk of diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
In addition, preliminary clinical research suggests that licorice root may help reduce total cholesterol levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Cholesterol can lead to the buildup of plaque in artery walls, potentially resulting in coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke or other heart conditions.
5. Immunity and Overall Health
Licorice root has anti-inflammatory, laxative, and soothing properties. Research has shown that glycyrrhizin, a sweet-tasting compound found in licorice, has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties similar to hydrocortisone, a steroid hormone used to treat eczema and rheumatism. In the Food Chemistry journal, licorice was described to have antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties.
Research conducted in Japan concluded that glycyrrhizin was effective in treating chronic hepatitis and has potential in preventing the formation of liver cancer cells. Several studies have also pointed to the antiviral and anticarcinogenic (anti-cancer) potential of licorice.
6. Weight Loss and Metabolism
Several studies have demonstrated that licorice reduces body fat and modulates blood sugar levels. Licorice contains flavonoids that appears to suppress abdominal fat accumulation. One animal study conducted in Japan concluded that licorice suppresses abdominal fat and body weight gain.

Disclaimer

* These are some of the pharmacological actions that have been observed or are under study in various evidence-based research studies. Herb may have other properties not listed here.
The statements on this page are for educational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your healthcare practitioner prior to the use of any herbal products, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have allergies or medical conditions.
The information has been sourced and extracted from scientific papers, academic journals, research abstracts, and other sources. While Purify Tea makes every effort to present accurate and reliable information on this website, Purify Tea does not endorse, approve, or certify such information, nor does it guarantee the accuracy, completeness, efficiency, timeliness, or correct sequencing of such information. Use of such information is voluntary, and reliance on it should only be undertaken after an independent review of its accuracy, completeness, efficiency, and timeliness. While many traditional or folkloric remedies have a long history of use, modern research has only begun to investigate and substantiate their effectiveness. Research is still ongoing in many areas therefore conclusions are subject to change.

Sources

C Nam, S Kim, Y Sim, I Chang. “Anti-acne effects of Oriental herb extracts: a novel screening method to select anti-acne agents.” Mol Nutr Food Res. July 24, 2008.
Cristina Fiore, Michael Eisenhut, Rea Krausse, Eugenio Ragazzi, Donatella Pellati, Decio Armanini, Jens Bielenberg. “Antiviral effects of Glycyrrhiza species.” Phytother Res. February 2008;22(2):1418.
D Steinberg, H D Sgan-Cohen, A Stabholz, S Pizanty, R Segal, M N Sela. “The anticariogenic activity of glycyrrhizin: preliminary clinical trials.” Isr J Dent Sci. October 1989;2(3):1537.
Fumiki Aoki, Shinichi Honda, Hideyuki Kishida, Mitsuaki Kitano, Naoki Arai, Hozumi Tanaka, Shinichi Yokota, Kaku Nakagawa, Tomiko Asakura, Yuji Nakai, Tatsumasa Mae. “Suppression by licorice flavonoids of abdominal fat accumulation and body weight gain in high-fat diet-induced obese C57BL/6J mice.” Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. January 2007;71(1):20614. Epub January 7, 2007.
Kaku Nakagawa, Hideyuki Kishida, Naoki Arai, Tozo Nishiyama, Tatsumasa Mae. “Licorice flavonoids suppress abdominal fat accumulation and increase in blood glucose level in obese diabetic KKA(y) mice.” Biol Pharm Bull. November 2004;27(11):17758.
Kane, Charles W. Herbal Medicine: Trends and Traditions. New York, NY: Lincoln Town Press, 2009. Print.
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R Segal, S Pisanty, R Wormser, E Azaz, M N Sela. “Anticariogenic activity of licorice and glycyrrhizine I: Inhibition of in vitro plaque formation by Streptococcus mutans.” Chest. April 2004;125(4):146771.
Ramaswamy Kannappan, Subash Chandra Gupta, Ji Hye Kim, Simone Reuter, Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal. “Neuroprotection by spice-derived nutraceuticals: you are what you eat!” Mol Neurobiol. October 2011;44(2):14259. Epub March 1, 2011.
Shreesh Kumar Ojha, Charu Sharma, Mahaveer Jain Golechha, Jagriti Bhatia, Santosh Kumari, Dharamvir Singh Arya. “Licorice treatment prevents oxidative stress, restores cardiac function, and salvages myocardium in rat model of myocardial injury.” Toxicol Ind Health. February 2015;31(2):14052. Epub June 14, 2013.
T Takahara, A Watanabe, K Shiraki. “Effects of glycyrrhizin on hepatitis B surface antigen: a biochemical and morphological study.” J Hepatol. October 1994;21(4):6019.
Y Arase, K Ikeda, N Murashima, K Chayama, A Tsubota, I Koida, Y Suzuki, S Saitoh, M Kobayashi, H Kumada. “The long term efficacy of glycyrrhizin in chronic hepatitis C patients. Cancer.” April 15, 1997;79(8):1494500.
Zhang, Yifang, and Yingzhi Yao. Your Guide to Health with Foods & Herbs: Using the Wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine. New York, NY: Better Link, 2012. Print.
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