Licorice root may just be one of the most over-looked herbs when it comes to healing. This wood-like plant can grow up to seven feet tall and produces dark green leaves with both yellow and purple flowers.
The root itself has been utilized by various ancient cultures medicinally to treat a multitude of ailments. Here are just a few of the things licorice root can do for you.
PMS and Menopause
Licorice contains compounds called phytoestrogens, which are believed to alleviate the symptoms associated with both PMS and menopause. Phytoestrogens have an estrogenic effect on the body, helping balance out hormone levels and ease symptoms like irritability, hot flashes, bloating, cramps and more.
According to the University Of Maryland Medical Center, licorice root extract may help you shed pounds. When 15 people took 3.5 grams daily for two months they experienced a drop in body fat mass and when individuals took 900 mg of licorice flavonoid oil for eight weeks they experienced reduced body fat mass, BMI and weight. Further research is needed to determine the exact mechanism for these results but the outlook is promising.
Licorice has long been used to treat digestive woes. The herb has the ability to calm inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestinal lining and may prevent ulcers by promoting mucus formation in the stomach.
Another traditional use of licorice root is treating coughs, colds and asthma symptoms. The herb’s mucus-producing properties result in a less-sticky variety in the bronchial passages, meaning it is easier to clear. And several cough syrups and lozenges contain a percentage of the extract in their ingredients.
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
The compound glycyrrhizin is a key component to the herb’s healing abilities. Glycyrrhizin is believed to enhance cortisol activity in the body which increases energy levels and reduces the body’s response to stress, both symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Licorice can calm inflammation of the liver that is associated with conditions like hepatitis. It also combats the herpes virus, which is responsible for cold sores and the painful condition, shingles. And it delivers powerful antioxidants to the liver to help maintain the health and function of this vital organ.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a licorice gel applied to the skin is effective at treating itching, redness and swelling of the skin. It can also help alleviate the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis as well as treat burns when applied topically.
Licorice has an aspirin-like effect and can be used to treat headaches as well as help relieve fevers. It can also help lessen symptoms of hay fever, conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma as it has an anti-allergenic effect as well.
The glycyrrhizic acid found in licorice helps maintain proper function of the adrenal glands, which are key in balancing the stress hormone cortisol. When this hormone is low, fatigue, anxiety, melancholy and other depression symptoms are often the result. Licorice helps keep these important hormone levels in check.
While licorice root is a potent herb with many healing properties, it should be taken under the guidance of a physician as there are several side effects to consider. Long-term use is not recommended nor is any use recommended for those with high blood pressure, heart disease or if you are pregnant. It also can interact with other medications and herbs so it is important to speak to your doctor before taking licorice root as a supplement.