Licorice root (also called liquorice root or sweet root) is the root and underground stems of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra.
Licorice root extract is acquired by pounding the plant’s root, boiling it, and then evaporating the liquid. The result is a sweet syrup or powder containing glycyrrhizin that has medicinal properties.
This herb grows from three to seven feet high in parts of Asia and Europe. Licorice root has been used by both Eastern and Western medicine to treat some health conditions for thousands of years. Not all are supported by studies, however. The perennial plant has also been used as a sweetener and for flavoring.
Here’s a look at some conditions it’s been used to treat:
Cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol
By improving the body’s bile flow, licorice root may regulate cholesterol levels. Research also seems to indicate that bile may help to get rid of excessive cholesterol. In addition, licorice root’s anti-oxidant properties may contribute to capillary health as well as slow the growth of arterial plaque.
The glycyrrhizic acid in licorice root can help prevent depression and nervousness by promoting adrenal gland function, some studies show. These glands control stress hormone levels; when they are low you can experience fatigue and anxiety. The root also contains asparagine amino acid, which maintains nervous system equilibrium.
Licorice root’s anti-inflammatory and soothing action may help to ease digestive troubles and intestinal issues.
Herpes and shingles
Some research shows that the herb’s anti-viral agents may suppress cold sores caused by the herpes virus. People have also taken it to treat shingles.
The herb’s phytoestrogen and anti-oxidant properties may help with hormonal problems associated with menopause such as tiredness, mood swings, and hot flashes.
PMS and menstrual cramps
Licorice root’s anti-inflammatory and estrogenic activity, as well as its ability to relieve muscle spasms, may ease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as cramps, tender breasts, bloating, feeling queasy, and mood swings.
You may find relief from skin conditions, such as eczema, rashes, psoriasis, itchiness, and dryness, when taking nutritional supplements of this extract due to its soothing and anti-inflammatory attributes.
Research suggests that licorice root may have expectorant activity which can help with dry cough, bronchitis, and asthma. Its antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents may also lubricate the respiratory tract if inflamed.
A study seemed to show that people lost a lot of body fat when taking the extract for two months. Don’t use it longer than two months, however.