By: Pallavi Vathiar. Consulting Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
Licorice is an herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia. The root is used as medicine. Licorice root, also known as sweet root, is used mostly as a sweetener in candies and beverages. It comes in few variants namely Licorice Powder, Licorice liquid and licorice tea. Licorice is also used to flavor foods, beverages, and tobacco products.
It has multiple health benefits namely_
Licorice root is used to soothe gastrointestinal problems. In cases of food poisoning, stomach ulcers, and heartburn, licorice root extract can speed the repair of stomach lining and restore balance. A study found that glycyrrhizic acid can suppress the toxic bacteria H. pylori, and can prevent it from growing in the gut (1).
Curbs Cancer Cells
In particular, licorice extract and its compounds have been linked to slowing or preventing cell growth in skin, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers. Due to its content of numerous plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, licorice root extract has been studied for its protective effects against certain types of cancer (2). A 2-week study in 60 adults with head and neck cancer revealed that a topical licorice film was just as effective as the standard treatment for oral mucositis (3).
Ease Respiratory Conditions
Licorice is recommended to treat respiratory problems. Taking licorice as an oral supplement can help the body produce healthy mucus. The production of clean, healthy phlegm keeps the respiratory system functioning without old, sticky mucus clogging it. Research shows that glycyrrhizin extract from licorice root helps relieve asthma, especially when added to modern asthma treatments (4)
Licorice can be a successful dermatological treatment due to its antibacterial properties. For that reason, holistic health practitioners often suggest applying licorice to tooth decay to kill bacteria. A 3-week study gave 66 preschool-aged kids sugar-free lollipops containing 15 mg of licorice root twice per day during the school week. Consuming the lollipops significantly reduced the number of Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which are the main cause of cavities (5).
Peptic ulcers are painful sores that develop in your stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine. They’re commonly caused by inflammation resulting from H. pylori bacteria. a 2-week study in 120 adults showed that consuming licorice extract in addition to a standard treatment significantly reduced the presence of H. pylori (6).
Licorice root contains over 300 compounds, some of which demonstrate potent anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral effects. Licorice root extract is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne and eczema. In a 2-week study in 60 adults, applying a topical gel containing licorice root extract significantly improved eczema (7).