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Licorice quick review
Botanical description: a perennial herb native to southern Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean. It belongs to the family Leguminosae (pulse family).
Active constituents: glycyrrhizin, asparagine, flavonoids and isoflavonoids, chalcones, coumarins, sterols, triterpenoid saponins, and estrogenic substances.
Health benefits : used as a demulcent (soothing, coating agent) in the digestive and urinary tracts, to help with coughs, to soothe sore throats, and as a flavoring.

Dosage: usual dose of licorice powdered root (4 ~ 9 % glycyrrhizin) is one to four grams taken by mouth daily.

Side effects : excessive licorice promotes cardiovascular toxicity, hypertension, and edema; leads to excessive loss of salt from the blood, water retention, high blood pressure, and heart irregularities.
 
GastroSoothe by Enzymatic Therapy
GastroSoothe is a unique extract of deglycyrrhizinated licorice widely used in Europe. It's chewable, because saliva enhances the effect of DGL's natural compounds. In DGL, the glycyrrhizin-a compound associated with high blood pressure-has been removed. Click here for more information.
 

Licorice


Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a perennial herb native to southern Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean. It belongs to the family Leguminosae (pulse family). Licorice is a perennial that grows 3 to 7 feet high, and has an extensive branching root system. The wrinkled, brown root has yellow interior flesh and is covered with a tangle of rootlets branching from the stolons. The leaves are alternate, odd, and pinnate, dividing into as many as eight pairs of oblong leaflets. Purplish or yellowish white flowers grow in axillary racemes and bloom from June to August. The plant requires rich soils and grows in subtropical climates. Licorice roots are brown on the outside and yellow on the inside. Licorice products are made from the roots and underground stems of the plant. Licorice is also known as liquorice, American licorice, Spanish licorice, Russian licorice, sweet root, and Glycyrrhiza glabra.
 

Active constituents of licorice


Licorice root contains a variety of compounds, including glycyrrhizin, asparagine, flavonoids and isoflavonoids, chalcones, coumarins, sterols, triterpenoid saponins, and estrogenic substances. Antiviral phenolic constituents present in root extracts are licopyranocoumarin, licoarylcoumarin, and glisoflavone. Glycyrrhizin, one of the main active ingredients in licorice, is believed to contribute to the herb's many healing properties. Glycyrrhizin has anti-inflammatory actions and may inhibit the breakdown of the cortisol produced by the body. Glycyrrhizin reduces inflammation, promotes secretion of mucous, soothes irritation, and stimulates the activity of the adrenal glands. Glycyrrhizin reduces the activity of two enzymes that break down prostaglandin E (PGE). Glycyrrhizin is partially hydrolyzed by a glucuronidase to its aglycone glycyrrhetinic acid (GA). Glycyrrhizin is more than fifty times sweeter than cane sugar. Licorice flavonoids help heal digestive tract cells. They are also potent antioxidants and work to protect liver cells.
 

Medicinal uses and health benefits of licorice


Licorice has mineralocorticoid, spasmolytic, and estrogenic properties. Licorice is mostly used as a demulcent (soothing, coating
agent) in the digestive and urinary tracts, to help with coughs, to soothe sore throats, and as a flavoring. It has also been used to treat conditions ranging from diabetes to tuberculosis. Active compounds in licorice root are used to help prevent and treat chronic hepatitis (liver inflammation). Licorice fights the virus commonly responsible for hepatitis. The glycyrrhizin in licorice combats viruses such as hepatitis B, influenza, and HIV by boosting the immune system's T-cell count and stimulating production of protective compounds such as interferon. Licorice contains glycyrrhetic acid, which helps heal stomach ulcers. Glycycrhetinic acid is used in the commercial preparation of carbenoxolone, employed as an anti-inflammatory agent against gastric ulcers and in the treatment of Addison's disease. Licorice root is a great source of the female hormone estrogen. It helps to normalize and regulate hormone production. Licorice may prevent the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol, making these hormones more available to the body. By enhancing cortisol activity, glycyrrhizin helps to increase energy, ease stress, and reduce the symptoms of ailments sensitive to cortisol levels. Glycyrrhizin can help reduce inflammation. Licorice helps to open the pores and is used in combination with other cleansing and healing herbs as an emollient. Licorice cream applied directly to irritated skin can help to reduce inflammation and relieve such symptoms as itching and burning. Licorice has been used topically to suppress the production of oil on the scalp. Licorice is effective as a cough suppressant. Licorice increases bile flow and acts to lower blood cholesterol levels.The phytoestrogens in licorice have a mild estrogenic effect, making the herb potentially useful in easing certain symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), such as irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness.
 

Dosage and administration of licorice


Licorice is available in pill formulations, powered or crushed forms, liquid drops, and tea formulations. The usual dose of licorice powdered root (4 ~ 9 % glycyrrhizin) is one to four grams taken by mouth daily, divided into three or four doses, have been used. A tea can be made by adding approximately 4g of chopped or freshly grated licorice roots to a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes and strain. There are two kinds of licorice extract products, standard licorice and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), for the treatment of different conditions. The standard licorice containing glycyrrhizin is used for respiratory infections, chronic fatigue syndrome or herpes (topical). DGL is prepared without the glycyrrhizin that stimulate the adrenal glands in order to circumvent potential safety problems, and is used for conditions of the digestive tract, such as ulcers. DGL may be better for stomach or duodenal ulcers. To treat peptic ulcer, take DGL extract: 0.4 to 1.6 g three times per day.
 

Side effects, precautions, interactions


High doses of licorice may cause serious side effects. Excessive licorice is known to promote cardiovascular toxicity, hypertension, and edema. It will lead to excessive loss of salt from the blood, water retention, high blood pressure, and heart irregularities, sometimes accompanied by fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps. Too much licorice can also cause weight gain. People with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or kidney, heart, or liver conditions should not use licorice. Prolonged use of licorice (longer than four to six weeks) should be avoided. Do not take Licorice preparations during pregnancy. Licorice products that include glycyrrhizin may increase blood pressure and cause water retention. Licorice may increase the effects of anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs and herbals.