Liquorice, scientifically known as Glycyrrhiza glabra, is a legume that has been cultivated for its valuable roots for thousands of years. Liquorice root has been known as a medicinal cure in many ancient civilisations, from Egypt to China.
These days, liquorice root is best known for its use in flavouring confectionery. This is no surprise, as liquorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is 30-50 fifty times sweeter than sugar.
This same super-sweet substance is now scientifically recognised for its medicinal value and health benefits. In fact, liquorice was dubbed the “Medicinal plant of 2012”. Several research studies published in the past few years have hailed liquorice as a remedial substance for ailments such as inflammatory stomach conditions, indigestion, sore throat, and—most recently—even diabetes. Liquorice can be used in its root form, as an extract, or as a candy. Liquorice roots contain dried rhizomes. Boiling the liquorice root and extracting the remains, which when solidified, make the liquorice extract found in our imported liquorice products.
Liquorice root and its extract are known for its antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antioxidant, antidepressant, demulcent and expectorant activity. Due to its remarkable healing components, liquorice root has been used in the treatment of many minor to severe health conditions which include asthma, body odour, chronic fatigue, depression, obesity, sore throats, coughs, colds & flu symptoms, bronchitis, gingivitis and tooth decay, sores, infections caused by viruses such as hepatitis, fungal infections, athlete's foot, heartburn, constipation, peptic ulcer, liver problems, emphysema, psoriasis, shingles, skin rash, hyperpigmentation, baldness, tuberculosis, yeast infections, hormone regulation, mood swings, hot flashes associated with menopause, PMS, muscle cramps, prostate enlargement, bursitis, tendinitis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Whilst liquorice root extract offers a lot of benefits, as with most things in life too much of a good thing can be harmful.
The NHS (England) recommend that you eat no more than 57g (2 ounces) of black liquorice on a daily basis because it can lead to an increase in blood pressure and an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), especially if you are over 40 and have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure. This is based on a European Commission published that suggested that people should not consume any more than 100mg of glycyrrhizic acid a day (One of the main active ingredients found in liquorice root extract).
As the Dutch (The worlds leading consumers of liquorice) know well: If you have been eating a lot of black liquorice and have heart palpitations, muscle weakness or other health-related problems, stop eating it immediately.
Liquorice is used in a number of ways to cure various gastrointestinal and stomach conditions. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is used to treat colic, heartburn, and chronic gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach). Stomach ulcers, most commonly Peptic ulcers, can be treated using liquorice. Liquorice extract is partially composed of flavonoids that kill ulcer-causing bacteria, mainly Helicobacter pylori.
According to Kew.org, Liquorice Root is a common ingredient in present-day cough mixtures and throat lozenges. Liquorice can be used as an expectorant to treat respiratory problems such as coughing, asthma, sore throat, and bronchitis. Liquorice extract is an expectorant, which promotes the passage of mucus and other material from the lungs. Because of this quality, liquorice can loosen phlegm and treat bronchitis and colds. By loosening phlegm, liquorice makes it easier to cough out, thus contributing to cleaner lungs and organs, which is healthier.
Liquorice root extract contains the antioxidant glabridin and licochalcone-A. They both have powerful anti-ageing and skin-soothing properties.
Glabridin, in particular, has been shown to mitigate the effects of sun damage. It disperses melanin and inhibits melanin biosynthesis which basically means that it brightens damaged skin and blocks the enzyme that triggers the skin to darken after being damaged by UV radiation.
That means liquorice root extract can combat hyperpigmentation (Dark marks from sun spots or acne scars that don’t fade) – an issue often treated with harsh chemical peels.
Licochalcone-A works to defend your skin against free radicals. Its anti-inflammatory properties mean that products containing liquorice root extract are often used to treat skin disorders like rosacea and eczema.
Licochalcone also regulates the skin’s oil production. Therefore this anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory ingredient contained within liquorice root extract can be used to treat breakouts caused by super oily skin.
According to a number of studies, liquorice root extract (Consumed in the correct quantity!) may regulate the cholesterol levels by improving the bile flow. The antioxidant activity of liquorice root extract may inhibit the development of arterial plaque and improve capillary health.
Liquorice Root Extract has been used in the treatment of cold sores, shingles and herpes simplex. A few studies have shown that the anti-viral activity of liquorice root extract may suppress the progression and recurrence of cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus.
According to homeremediesweb.com, liquorice roots have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-depressant qualities. Because liquorice roots have antioxidant properties, they are useful in treating high cholesterol, heart disease and menopause. The antioxidant properties work with the estrogenic properties in liquorice to produce added benefits. PMS and menstrual cramps (caused by hormone fluctuation) are lessened if liquorice root extracts are used, due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties of this plant.
According to research Glycyrrhizic acid in liquorice root extract could help with depression and anxiety by promoting adrenal gland function. Stress hormones such as cortisol are regulated by the adrenal glands. Chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety are usually because of depleted hormone levels.