Licorice Roots’ Benefits For The Body

Licorice always brings to mind the red or black confection by that name. However, the candy actually contains little or no real licorice. However, the licorice root is rich in value. The name licorice actually comes from two Greek words meaning ‘sweet root.’ It is also called Chinese Licorice, Sweet Licorice, Sweet Wood, Kan-ts’ao, Gan Cao, Kuo-lao, and Yasti Madhu, and others. Used in proper doses, licorice is one of the most powerful herbs available today.

The licorice plant is obtained mainly from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The dried plants can grow to over four feet. The plant has bluish purple and white flowers that resemble the blooms of the sweet pea. The licorice roots are cleaned, ground, and then boiled. The curdled, very strong tasting extract is dried again. This is again, along with natural flavors, dissolved in water and formed in molds.

Licorice has a long rich history. In ancient Greece and Rome, licorice was employed as a tonic and also as a remedy for colds, coughs, and sore throats. Licorice has been discovered in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, including that of Tutankhamen. The ancient Hindus believed it increased sexual vigor when prepared as a beverage with milk and sugar. As much as 3000 year ago the Chinese maintained that eating the root would give them strength and endurance and they prepared a special tea of it for use as a medicine. In North American folk medicine, licorice was used as a cough suppressant, expectorant, laxative, and treatment for various cancers. Native Americans used it to alleviate pain in difficult childbirth. Early pharmacists used it as a flavoring and sweetening agent in many of their syrups and lozenges. Today, licorice extracts are popular sweeteners in confections for diabetics and those suffering from hypoglycemia. Recently a sample of historic licorice from 756 A.D. was analyzed and found to retain its active ingredients. In Pontefract, Great Britain, they still celebrate a licorice harvest festival.

Generally, licorice is an immune system stimulant that is antibacterial. It not only has value in itself, but it causes other herbs to reach their full potential as well. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a substance that is 50 times sweeter than sugar. Glycyrrhizinic acid is more than just a sweetener though. It also seems to stop the growth of many bacteria and of viruses such as influenza A. It is especially useful for any mucous membrane infection, cancer, radiation treatment, general fatigue, or immune suppression.

Licorice extracts are used extensively as ingredients in cough drops, cough syrups, antismoking lozenges, tonics, laxatives, and other preparations. They are also used as flavoring agents to mask bad tastes in certain medicines. For this reason alone it is good to have around when children are sick.

Licorice is well known for its stimulus of estrogens, which means it helps during menopause. It is effective in dealing with both stomach and duodenal ulcers. It helps mucous membrane systems, and has a long history of use for upper respiratory infections. Licorice is effective in treating other problems such as (in alphabetical order) arthritis, asthma, athlete’s foot, baldness, body odor, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, fungal infections, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, prostate enlargement, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendonitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, viral infections, and yeast infections.

Glycyrrhizin is not the only potent medication in licorice. Hundreds of other healing substances have been identified in licorice.  Some are flavonoids and various plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). They stimulate and regulate the adrenal glands and the pancreas.  This helps control insulin. Licorice acts as a natural cortisone or as a cortisone substitute. Licorice helps injured voice muscles and improves the voice when hoarseness or throat damage occur. Licorice works for the good of the intestinal tract. It acts as a mild laxative. It also strengthens the heart and circulatory system.

Licorice makes an excellent tea and can be used as a tincture as well. Of course, it can be used in many other forms. For instance, it can easily be ground up, and used in capsules. It can also make other treatments more palatable. You can also add it to dishes in small amounts so as to add nutritional value to the dish without changing the flavor. So, if these things interest you, add licorice root to your diet and enjoy the benefits today!

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 25th at 11:37 am and is filed under Bulk Herbs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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