Commonly used in food and as medicine, licorice or sweet root is considered an effective remedy for a variety of illnesses, ranging from the cold to liver disease. Licorice has certain compounds that make it 50 times sweeter as compared to sugar. It also acts as a soothing, coating agent as well as an expectorant that works great to eliminate phlegm from your system. It has many uses but not all of them are backed by scientific evidence. This makes many people wonder if it is good. Let's find out if you can get any health benefits by including it in your diet.
Is Licorice Good for You?
Yes, licorice is good for you. Glycyrrhiza is the active substance found in licorice, but it has many other substances as well that make it effective against gastrointestinal problems, including stomach ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux, and chronic gastritis. It also helps soothe your sore throat. Many people have used it to treat canker sores successfully. Some experts are of the view that using licorice may help you lose weight as well.
Benefits of Licorice
Is licorice good for you? Yes, the substances found in licorice make it beneficial for you. Here are some major reasons to include licorice in your diet.
1. It Offers Healing Benefits
Licorice has hundreds of healing substances, including flavonoids as well as plant estrogens. It also contains glycyrrhizin that has therapeutic effects on your body. It helps prevent the breakdown of cortisol and other adrenal hormones and make them more available throughout the body.
Licorice also relieves heartburn, treats indigestion, and lowers stomach acid levels. Thanks to its therapeutic properties, it relieves inflammation, irritation, and spasm in the digestive tract. By increasing bile flow, it also plays a role in lowering cholesterol levels.
2. It Boosts Immune System
Licorice improves your immunity mainly because it boosts levels of an immune system chemical called interferon. Licorice is also a good source of powerful antioxidants and phytoestrogens that help make menopausal symptoms less severe. Moreover, the presence of glycyrrhizin is another reason why licorice works great to prevent viral and bacterial infection.
3. It Relieves Stress and Pain
Licorice works like aspirin and is equally effective in soothing pain and relieving fevers. It also has anti-allergenic effect that makes it effective against allergic rhinitis, hay fever, bronchial asthma, and conjunctivitis. Moreover, it makes you less susceptible to stress, both mental and physical.
4. It Treats Respiratory Problems
Licorice acts as an expectorant and helps loosen thin mucus in airways. It eases congestion and makes breathing easier. It is also effective in treating bronchial spasms. Moreover, you can also use the herb to relieve soreness in your throat and treat viral infections that cause asthma, irritating coughs, and chest infections.
5. It Boosts Liver Function
Regular use of licorice protects the liver and prevents specific liver problems, including hepatitis. It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective against hepatitis-associated liver inflammation. It also helps kill the virus responsible for causing hepatitis.
6. It Treats Menstrual Problems
If you are experiencing premenstrual syndrome or have other menstrual problems, include licorice in your diet. It works effectively against symptoms such as bloating, irritability, and breast tenderness.
7. It Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Licorice is good for your heart health mainly because it prevents the formation of artery-clogging plaque. It reduces bad cholesterol levels in your blood and helps keep your heart healthy.
Watch Your Dosage with Different Forms
Is licorice good for you? Yes, it is, but you need to consume in moderation and know how much to take when using different forms of licorice. For instance:
- Liquid Extract: It is the most commonly available form of licorice and is often used as a commercial sweetener in beverages and candies. When using this form of licorice, you should not exceed 30mg/ml glycyrrhizic acid.
- Powder: You can get it in powder form, by the ounce at health food stores. You can use it with a gel base to make your own topical ointment to treat skin problems, including acne and eczema. You should not consume more than 75mg per day.
- Tea: You can find licorice in the form of tea, which is made after drying and crushing licorice plant leaves. It is easily available at health food stores. Regular consumption promotes respiratory, digestive, and adrenal gland health. You should avoid drinking more than 8oz of licorice tea a day.
- DGL: You get licorice in this form when the glycyrrhizin is removed from it. you can use it to treat gastrointestinal problems, but ensure that there is no more than 2% glycyrrhizin in DGL. You can find it in capsules, chewable tablets, powder, and tea. Ensure that you do not consume more than 5g a day.
Possible Risks Involved
Is licorice good for you? There certainly are benefits. However, there are some possible risks associated with the idea of including licorice in your diet.
- For instance, you may have to deal with pseudoaldosteronism if you consume licorice for more than two weeks – this holds true for real licorice that contains glycyrrhizin. This condition makes you more sensitive to a hormone produced by your adrenal glands, which in turn can affect your blood pressure and lead to potassium loss and fluid retention.
- You should also avoid taking licorice if you already have a history of high blood pressure or heart problems. Some studies have found a connection between licorice use and low testosterone levels in men. It is mainly because it has estrogenic properties.
- Moreover, it is a good idea to avoid it during pregnancy because it could induce premature labor.