What Is Licorice Root?
Licorice root is one of the many things found in the tomb of King Tut (Tutankhamun). Even though archeologists still do not know why it was there. The history of licorice dates back 3000 years. Some 2300 years ago, Chinese emperor Shennong experimented on different plants and called licorice a magic plant for aging men. From China, licorice use then spread to Africa, Europe, and India.
What Are The Uses Of Licorice Root?
For millennia, herbal medicine has used licorice to treat sore throats and other diseases. It is among the oldest herbal plants in the world. Its medicinal use dates back to ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Greece, Chinese and Indian cultures. Today, Asia, the middle east, and Europe are the largest consumers of licorice. Licorice root comes from the root of the licorice plant scientifically known as Glycyrrhiza glabra. It is a flavoring agent in candies, beverages, and other food items. For medicinal purposes, it is used in cough syrups.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Licorice Root?
There are 300 different beneficial compounds present in the licorice root. Each of these compounds has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Below, we have given some health benefits of licorice root:
Many compounds from licorice root reduce skin inflammation and help treat different skin conditions. According to one animal study, licorice root extract relieved the painful symptoms of eczema. In another study conducted on humans, applying a cream containing licorice extract improved eczema. It is also used for treating acne.
Stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers, are caused by a bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori. Studies have shown that adding licorice root extract to the treatment enhances H. pylori elimination and control. Reviews of other studies also suggest a link between the anti-ulcer activity of licorice root and treating stomach ulcers. A processed form of licorice extract available on the market also reduces gastric and intestinal irritation. It can help improve digestion by preventing acid reflux and heartburn.
Glycyrrhizin, a substance present in licorice, shows anti-microbial properties against hepatitis C. The hepatitis virus damages liver cells and causes chronic inflammation. According to test tube studies, Licorice extract may be able to treat hepatitis C in the future.
Licorice extract is also helpful in treating tooth decay. It kills a bacteria known as Streptococcus mutans in the mouth. Reducing the number of these bacteria reduces the acidity in the mouth, preventing tooth decay.
The most ancient use of licorice is cough syrups. Some people believe that licorice root tea can reduce sore throat symptoms. Studies have found that using licorice root can help prevent postoperative sore throat. Other studies have also suggested that it can treat respiratory ailments like asthma. Glycyrrhizin extract from licorice root is the principal compound that plays a role in treating asthma. But only animal studies have been carried out in this respect; human research is still needed.
What Makes Licorice Root An Anticancer Food?
Due to the presence of various beneficial compounds (anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidants), scientists are interested in the anticancer properties of licorice root.
Studies have shown that it is particularly effective in controlling the growth of cancer cells in breast, prostate, colorectal, and skin cancer. It is also helpful in treating the side effects of chemo and radiotherapy.
For example, licorice extract can treat oral mucositis, which is painful throat lesions that occur as an adverse effect of cancer treatments. It has a protective role against carcinogen-induced cancers, but more research is needed to confirm its role in treating human cancers.