Licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a legume, which roots have a sweet flavour. The roots contain compounds, like anethole and glycyrrhizic acid, responsible for the sweetness and other properties of this herb.
Licorice was used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians for therapeutic purposes. This herb was used for treating stomach disorders as well as respiratory problems. It was very widely used in Asia and Europe too.
Today, licorice is used as flavouring agent, herbal medicine, available as root extract, tablets, root tea, candies, etc. You may also come across tobacco products flavored with licorice. However, use of licorice in high doses, that too for a long term, may result in serious side effects.
Benefits of using licorice:
Licorice roots are otherwise known as sweet wood, sweet root, black sugar, and liquorice.
The most common uses of licorice root is effective for:
- Treating respiratory problems, like bronchitis and asthma
- Use as an expectorant, and is an active ingredient in cough syrups
- Relieving the symptoms of allergic conditions, like hay fever and allergic rhinitis
- Stomach ulcers are also treated with licorice
- Beneficial for treating conditions, like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ileitis, and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Cure sore throats
- Bloating and acidity
- Menstrual cramps
- Symptoms of menopause
- Boosts the immune system, thereby preventing viral infections; <u>used for treating viral hepatitis and genital herpes
- Lower LDL cholesterol and prevent arteriosclerosis
- Treating skin conditions, like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Research studies suggest the reason for these side effects is due to the presence of glycyrrhizic acid and licorice being ingested in high doses.
There are two types of licorice products – one with glycyrrhizic acid and the other without that compound.
Excess use of licorice may cause certain side effects associated with factors of:
- Like excess consumption,
- Interaction with other drugs
- Physical condition of the user
The most common side effects of licorice roots:
- Breathing difficulty,
- Water retention,
- Stomach ache,
- Joint stiffness.
Long-term use of this herb has been linked to: high blood pressure, edema, liver problems, kidney diseases, and pseudoaldosteronism.
Excess use especially in high doses of licorice with glycyrrhizic acid has been linked to: muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, headaches, inflammation, and low testosterone levels in men.
Licorice roots should not be taken by people with high blood pressure, diabetes, cirrhosis, kidney problems, heart diseases, low blood potassium levels, estrogen-sensitive disorders, etc. Pregnant and nursing women and small kids should also avoid use of this herb. It is better to avoid licorice, if you are taking diuretics or heart medication. In case, you wish to use this herb for medicinal purposes, consult a qualified herbal practitioner and follow his instructions.
The root of a plant named Glycyrrhiza glabra more commonly known as Liquorice. The sweet extract obtained from this root is also referred to as licorice, a confectionery extracted from the roots of this plant. This confectionery is used for preparing various sweets like chocolates and candies.
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