The Health Benefits of Licorice

Go to any grocery store, gas station or convenience store and check out the candy aisles. What is one of the more popular candy items, asides from chocolate? It is licorice! While this candy may go by different names such as Twizzlers, licorice is a popular candy. It comes in a wide variety of flavors such as cherry, chocolate and strawberry. But nothing beats the taste of black licorice. Did you know that licorice is more than a candy that is pleasing to our taste buds? This candy actually comes from the licorice plant, where its roots and stems are packed with many health benefits and healing properties. It has been used for many years among both the Chinese and Native Americans to treat many health conditions and ailments.



Licorice is high in nutrients and minerals such as:

 

Vitamin A

Vitamin B

Vitamin E

Calcium
Iron

Zinc

Selenium

Chromium

 

A major source of flavonoids, licorice plays an excellent role in boosting your immune system. By including honey and lemon juice in your daily diet, you can prevent yourself from getting a cold or a flu. If by chance you do fall victim to a cold or the flu, try this excellent homemade cough syrup. Chop up a piece of licorice root and allow it to steep ina cup of hot water for fifteen minutes.

Licorice is good for your heart since it is a natural blood thinner. When you have high levels of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, your arteries get clogged up with fatty buildup. This causes high blood pressure, because your heart has to work faster to move the blood through the arteries. This in turn can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Licorice contains sterols which play a role in reducing the amounts of cholesterol that are absorbed by your body. Taking licorice will help in reducing the chances of getting a heart attack or stroke.

Licorice contains expectorant properties. Taking licorice when you have a cold or flu will help speed up the recovery. That is because this plant contains glycosides which helps you body get rid of mucous and fluids that are trapped in your lungs and throat. This plant is also known as a demulcent (medicinenet), which provides your throat with a soothing coating. It acts as an excellent cough suppressant and is safer and more effective than what you buy at the store. Not only will you be breathing better, have clearer lungs your voice will not sound so hoarse. Not only will licorice will speed up your recovery from the cold and flu, you can also use it to treat more serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.

Licorice contains anti-viral properties called Interferons (IFNs). These are proteins made and released by host cells in response to the presence of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, or tumor cells. In a typical scenario, a virus-infected cell will release interferons causing nearby cells to ramp up their anti-viral defenses” (Interferon). Including licorice in your daily diet helps boost the immune system because of these interferons because they play a role in repairing damaged white blood cells.

Many females who are either going through menopause or are menstruating have drops in their estrogen levels. The symptoms of insufficient estrogen levels include:

 

Hot flashes

Night sweats

Anxiety

Vaginal dryness

Loss of libido

Mood swings

(natural-hormones)

 

Licorice plays a role in balancing hormones in women, helping relieve them of these symptoms.

While found in other parts of the body, helicobacter pylori is found mostly in the stomach. This bacterium is found “in patients with chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers, conditions not previously believed to have a microbial cause” (Wikipedia). Many stomach ulcers are caused by this bacterium. Licorice is an excellent medicine to treat stomach ulcers.

If you are suffering from constipation, chop up a piece of licorice root and allow it to steep in a cup of hot water for fifteen minutes. This will help moisture move through the digestive system. You will start having regular bowel movements in no time at all.

Licorice contains astringent properties. Applying the juice from licorice root to your skin will help clear up many skin conditions such as:

 

Acne

Eczema

Psoriasis

Cuts

Scrapes

Burns

Canker Sores

 

 

Licorice contains anti-inflammatory properties and is more effective in treating arthritis than cortisone injections and over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Licorice contains anti-bacterial properties. This herb is excellent to use as a mouth wash because it will kill the bacteria in your mouth. By giving you fresh breath, you are also preventing tooth decay and gum disease at the same time. The bacterium that gives you bad breath also attacks your gums and teeth.

Licorice plays a major role in improving liver function by removing the toxins from your body. It even removes kidney stones and prevents crystals from forming in the urinary tract because of its diuretic properties.

The sweetness of licorice comes from the root. This is called glycyrrhizin and is many times sweeter than sugar. Replacing this natural sweetener with what you have in your house is a natural and healthy choice. Including licorice in your daily diet will help your body reduce fat. Not only will it reduce belly fat, licorice will reduce fat from other parts of the body such as;

 

Back

Buttocks

Thighs

Arms

 

If you are trying to quit smoking, try chewing on a piece of licorice root.

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Where to Purchase Licorice

 

While you can purchase licorice as a candy, it is best to purchase it from a health food store. While you might pay less at a grocery store, this candy is made with a lot of artificial flavors and colors. Many of that candy do not contain real licorice. On the other hand, the licorice found in health food stores is all natural and organic. By eating this candy you are getting all the health benefits that licorice promises. Asides from candy, you can purchase a wide range of products containing licorice. These include:

 

Teas

Capsules

Licorice Root

Tinctures

Extracts

 

Cautions

 

While the candy itself is safe to eat, you should use caution if you are planning to take licorice as a root, extract, tincture or capsule.

If you are diabetic talk to your doctor before taking licorice.

If you have high blood pressure, take to your doctor before taking licorice. The potassium level in your body can be depleted if you use licorice over a long period of time. When this happens, you run the risk of getting high blood pressure. Therefore, it is best to take a potassium supplement if you are going to include licorice in your daily diet. It is also suggested that you use licorice for a few days and then go without it for another few to allow your body to bring up your potassium level.

While licorice root is excellent to prevent heart disease, do not take it if you already have heart disease without talking to your doctor first.

Do not take licorice if you are pregnant.

Do not take more than three doses of licorice root per day.

Do not take licorice root for more than six weeks.

Licorice can increase water retention and bloating.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician before giving your child licorice.

Always talk to your doctor before you start any herbal remedy regimen since some herbs may interact with medicines and supplements you may already be taking.

 

 

References:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interferon

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11142

http://www.natural-hormones.net/estrogen-symptoms-low-levels.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicobacter_pylori



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycyrrhizin






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