Also called ‘sweet root’ (as it contains a compound that makes it 50 times sweeter than sugar), licorice root is particularly known to improve gastrointestinal health, in addition to offering numerous other benefits.
The root even enhances the efficiency of other herbs and can make your life easier with its anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. All of this, and several other properties, make licorice root so good.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Licorice Root?
Primarily known for its ability to heal the gastrointestinal system, licorice root benefits the human body in numerous other ways. Thanks to the glycyrrhizin, the root helps fight cancer and inflammation. Other important bioactive compounds in licorice root help boost brain function and aid diabetes treatment, while the fiber helps in weight loss. Licorice root might also be beneficial for the skin and hair.
1. Improves Gastrointestinal Health
Talking about conditions like acid reflux, licorice root can do a great job. And this is especially true with DGL, or deglycyrrhizinated licorice (a form of licorice root, which we will discuss in a little while). DGL is known to increase mucus production, and this can protect the stomach lining from excess acid. Licorice is also known to treat ulcers.
And being an anti-inflammatory and demulcent (relieves irritation and soothes), licorice root can also help treat a leaky gut. The root also speeds the recovery of the stomach lining. This can be attributed to the presence of glycyrrhizic acid in the root, which restores balance in the gut. The acid suppresses the growth of the H. pylori bacteria, which can cause various issues with digestion.
2. Assists Cancer Treatment
One American study talks about how licorice and its derivatives can offer protection against carcinogenic DNA damage. The polyphenols in the root also induce cancer cell death, as per the study .
In fact, some amount of research states that licorice can work better than chemotherapy in killing cancer cells. In fact, its action is selective – it protects the healthy cells in the process, unlike chemotherapy that destroys everything.
The glycyrrhizin in licorice induces cancer cell death in prostate cancer too. Studies reveal its therapeutic potential against prostate cancer.
3. Aids Diabetes Treatment
This might appear counterintuitive, given that licorice is 50 times sweeter than sugar and all. But research revelations are surprising. The molecules in licorice root are found to possess anti-diabetic properties. And what’s even better – these molecules are very well tolerated by the human body.
More interestingly, diabetic rats that were given licorice extract experienced a drop in their blood sugar levels. A couple of substances in licorice, namely glabridin and amorfrutin, were deemed responsible for this benefit.
4. Can Help With Weight Loss
Studies have some interesting results here. One study showed that intake of 3.5 grams of licorice a day could reduce body fat by 4%. And licorice also contains fiber, which might help one feel full.
Preliminary research also states how licorice can decrease body fat mass. The root also has desirable effects on the thickness of body fat. Studies have also shown how supplementing with licorice flavonoid oil might reduce obesity. Licorice tea might also help reduce body fat.
5. Boosts Liver Health
The anti-inflammatory properties of licorice have been found to protect the liver from alcohol-induced injury. The root is also known to improve the antioxidant defense in the condition.
Studies have also shown how licorice root can offer relief in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The same is true with other liver ailments like jaundice.
Licorice root extract might also help with detoxification.
6. Fights Inflammation
We have already seen the anti-inflammatory effects of licorice root. The root is particularly effective in treating inflammation of the digestive tract. The glycyrrhizin in the root also inhibits tissue inflammation by reducing the generation of reactive oxygen species, or ROS.
Licorice, as per studies, can protect against chronic inflammation and related conditions like arthritis. Further research also states how licorice acts like the body’s natural corticosteroids (compounds that reduce inflammation). The root also prevents the production of certain enzymes that are responsible for inflammation.
7. Boosts Brain Health
One compound in licorice, namely carbenoxolone, was found to reduce stress and slow down brain aging. In addition, it was also found to keep mental skills sharp.
Another compound in licorice, called liquiritigenin, was found to have a positive effect on brain cells, and as a consequence, could also prevent Alzheimer’s. And as per a report by the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, licorice root extract could also help prevent other brain diseases – and even improve memory.
Some sources say licorice might also aid depression treatment – however, we need more research on this.
8. Relieves Adrenal Fatigue And Other Hormonal Issues
Some sources state how licorice can prevent adrenal exhaustion. It supports the adrenal glands and even helps balance hormones. In fact, the root has been traditionally used to balance female hormones, thus relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause. The flavonoids in licorice were found to have an estrogenic effect on human cells.
And talking about polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, licorice root is known to be used in herbal supplements for treatment purposes. However, we need more information in this aspect.
9. Enhances Immunity
Licorice root has antiviral and antimicrobial properties, and these can help boost immunity. In fact, the glycyrrhizin in licorice can stimulate immunity and help fight several viral infections, as per studies. It also prevents other bacterial and fungal infections.
Licorice root also plays a great role in relieving cough and other ailments of the respiratory tract. It cures colds and soothes a sore throat as well. The root also coats the throat with a thin film of mucus, and this protects the delicate tissues in there. It also helps clear congestion from the lungs and bronchial tubes – thereby helping bring up phlegm.
10. Might Improve Male Fertility
Studies have shown how licorice root can help treat erectile dysfunction. The root improves overall health on a cellular level. It also has beneficial effects on male hormonal levels.
According to another Italian study, licorice intake might also increase serum testosterone levels – which directly impact fertility.
However, studies are contradictory in this regard. We suggest you talk to your doctor before using licorice for this purpose.
11. Relieves Symptoms Of PMS And Menopause
Licorice root is known to offer relief from menstrual cramps. It can moderate the spasms and alleviate pain. The root has an estrogen-like effect in women, and this helps relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause.
In one study, licorice was found to be much better than therapy in reducing the duration of hot flashes.
12. Betters Oral Health
Research has shown that licorice root can cut cavities and gum disease. Two of the important compounds in licorice, namely licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, were found to be the most effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause cavities. The root also helps prevent periodontitis, which is a serious oral disease that destroys the gums and bones and tissues that maintain the teeth.
The root is also known to naturally freshen breath. And it prevents tooth decay as well.
13. Aids Sleep
One type of licorice root, called Glycyrrhiza glabra, is known to induce sleep and even increase sleep duration. Two other compounds in licorice root, namely gabrol and liquiritigenin, also help induce sleep. They also reduce the time required to fall asleep. More importantly, these compounds increase the length of non-REM sleep without disturbing deep sleep.
14. Improves Skin Health
The use of licorice brightens your skin. You can prepare a face mask by mixing turmeric powder and fuller’s earth with licorice tea. Apply the pack on your face and allow it to dry. Rinse off the face pack with normal water. To keep the skin hydrated, you can add a few drops of coconut oil, olive oil or almond oil to it.
Regular use of licorice helps to fade blemishes and dark spots.
Application of cool licorice tea is known to help in healing a number of skin disorders. Some of them are eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, and skin rashes. Its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and demulcent properties help to heal various skin conditions, such as redness and inflammation.
Incorporating licorice tea in one’s diet can protect the skin from the harmful UV rays. A licorice root decoction can be used as a sunscreen lotion to protect the skin from sunburns and tan. To treat sun damage, you need to apply a pack prepared by mixing the crushed cucumber in licorice tea.
15. Is Beneficial For Hair Health
Licorice root is packed with elements like flavonoids, phytoestrogens, and other essential oils. The root not only promotes the health of the scalp but also takes care of the hair.
The amazing demulcent properties of licorice root help in soothing the scalp by reducing various scalp conditions like scabs and dandruff. The root also boosts hair growth and might even combat premature balding. Even though not scientifically proven, licorice tea is consumed by people to combat premature balding.
It can be used in preparing packs for the effective treatment of various hair conditions. A pack can be prepared by adding amla powder and henna in licorice tea and mixing them well. It helps in treating many conditions, including dandruff, dull hair, split ends, and sun-induced hair damage.
That’s with the superb list of benefits. But the greatness of licorice root is not limited to these.