Licorice

Licorice is mostly associated with candy and has been used in food and medicine for 1000 years. It contains various compounds that help with heartburn, cancer, and a leaky gut.

Introduction

Licorice is a plant native to southern Europe and Asia and is used to flavor candies, sweeteners, and tobacco products.

 Licorice contains glycyrrhizin and glabridin, which have proven health effects on the body. It has been used in herbal and folk medicines for its anti-inflammatory properties.

While licorice is mainly found to have positive health benefits, excessive intake of glycyrrhizin may increase high blood pressure and muscle weakness.

Health Benefits of Licorice

1) Licorice Is an Anti-inflammatory

In an analysis of 93 papers, licorice extract was observed to have anti-inflammatory activities (R).

For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the active components of licorice, glycyrrhizin, and glycyrrhetinic acid, may decrease the side effects of NSAIDS or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs by suppressing an inflammatory pathway (R).

In mice, licorice prevented against alcohol-induced liver injury by reducing key liver inflammation markers (R).

Licorice promotes regulatory T cells, which protects autoimmune and inflammatory diseases (R).

In mice, licorice extract prevents proinflammatory cytokine expression, which may be beneficial for inflammatory diseases (R).  

Glabridin, a licorice root isoflavan, has anti-inflammatory abilities in high-glucose environments (R).

In human skin cells, licorice extract protected skin indicated by a decrease in oxidation (R).

2) Licorice Benefits the Heart

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In patients with hypercholesterolemia, after a year of licorice consumption, carotid intima-media thickness, cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure levels decreased (R).

In mice and rats, licorice flavonoid oil benefits weight loss by enhancing fat oxidation during light exercise (R).

In mice, licorice root powder was effective in reducing body weight gain, fat deposition, liver steatosis, and hepatic lipid gene expression (R).

3) Licorice May Prevent Cancer

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In a human oral squamous cell carcinoma cell line, licorice increased tumor-specific cytotoxicity. In HIV-infected cells, licorice increased anti-HIV activity than in the control group (R).

Licochalcone, a licorice polyphenol, may be a skin cancer chemopreventive agent by blocking certain biochemical pathways (R).

In an oral cancer cell line, a polysaccharide from licorice prevents oral cancer cells from growing (R).

4) Licorice Benefits the Gastrointestinal System

In patients with peptic ulcer disease or non-ulcer dyspepsia, clarithromycin treatment with licorice helped reduce H. pylori bacteria, which is associated with poor gastrointestinal health (R).

In patients with peptic ulcer disease, licorice is as effective as bismuth to reducing Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes ulcers (R).

In patients with dyspepsia, glycyrrhiza glabra (found in licorice) helped symptoms of nausea, indigestion, and stomach pains (R).

In mice, licorice flavonoids prevented colitis-associated carcinogenesis and reduced azoxymethane- and dextran sulfate sodium- induced tumorigenesis (R).

In rats, licorice, pulasari stem bark, and sembung leaf decreased the number and size of gastric ulcers in comparison to rats treated with aspirin (R).

Licorice may be able to treat drug poisoning by increasing phase II metabolizing enzymes and other mechanisms (R).

5) Licorice Helps Prevent the Growth of Microbes

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Licorice stimulates the immune system and has antioxidant properties (R).

In staphylococcus aureus, licorice was effective in controlling the growth of methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant S. aureus bacteria (R).

Licorice has antiviral and antimicrobial properties by preventing virus gene replication and bacterial gene expression (R).

6) Licorice Helps Improve Women’s Health

In menopausal women, licorice is more effective than hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by reducing hot flash duration, but HRT can reduce hot flash severity (R).

7) Licorice May Benefit Male Infertility

In mice, licorice extract increased sperm production, which may benefit male infertility (R).

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