Licorice is one of the most extensively used medicinal and flavoring herb in Ayurveda and medical sciences across the world. It is the root of the Glycyrrhiza Glabra plant and is commonly known as “sweet wood” for the sweet aroma and flavor it imparts. It is a herbaceous perennial legume native to regions in southern Europe and India.
Its scientific name is Glycyrrhiza Glabra. In Ayurveda, it is known as Yastimadhu. Its common names are Licorice or Liqourice.
Licorice is one of the highest consumed of all herbs. It is a source of pharmacological compounds that get added to many anti-depressants, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory medicines. With a variety of uses and cures, it finds applications for the majority of health ailments.
Licorice Health Benefits
- Naturally occurring healing substances, flavonoids, estrogens and the sweet extract of glycyrrhizin found in licorice, help in treating ulcers, irritation, inflammation and spasm in the digestive tract.
- The substances also help in preventing the breakdown of adrenal hormones making these hormones more available to the body.
- It also helps in increasing the bile flow, making the liver healthier, in turn lowering the risks of Hepatitis and lowers the cholesterol level of the body.
- The reduction of cholesterol improves cardiac health.
Licorice, by boosting levels of interferon, a chemical essential for fighting against attacking viruses, enhances the immunity. Antioxidants such as estrogens, phytoestrogens, and glycyrrhizic acid, suppress the growth of many bacteria such as influenza A.
Licorice helps to cure blockage and coughing by thinning the mucus in the airways, in turn helping to flush out phlegm and other mucus bits. Not only does licorice help in relaxing bronchial spasms but also soothes sore throat.
Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
The glycyrrhizin, which boosts the cortisol activity, in turn helps in increasing energy, eases stress and overall functions to reduce the symptoms of ailments subjected to increased cortisol levels, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromylagia. The impact on adrenal gland also helps in reducing stress and other associated problems.
The phytoestrogens present in helps in easing various symptoms of PMS, such as irritability, bloating and breast tenderness.
Commonly used as a confectionery, licorice provides a major breakthrough in the oral health industry. By chewing the root, the chemicals help in preventing bad breath and also bacterial growth around the teeth.
Limitations on Consumption
As a common flavoring agent and for its sweet taste, Licorice is extensively used in candies, chewys, and in food. While nowadays Anise is used instead as a flavoring agent for licorice candies, their consumption is prescribed to be controlled. High amounts of Licorice can cause hypokalaemia and hypertension. It is suggested that the herb is consumed in quantities of not more 70-100 grams in a day.