Home / Health Insurance / Articles / Licorice Root (Ayurvedic Medicine): Uses, side effects, and more
Team AckoApr 4, 2023
Licorice (LCR), which was traditionally used as a natural sweetener and food flavouring element, is now often used in processed chewing gums, candies, and drinks, as well as prescribed medications. Also known as mulethi, yastimadhu, or sweetwood, it is an effective and potent medicinal herb in Ayurveda.
Researchers discovered over 300 phytochemical compounds in LCR roots that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic properties. It is a popular herbal medicine for common colds, respiratory infections, sore throats, insomnia, digestive problems, exhaustion, several skin diseases, improving energy levels, and managing fatigue. Read on to learn more about the uses, benefits, and side effects of Licorice Root.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a purple and white blooming perennial plant native to the Mediterranean area, central and southwest Asia, and the Middle East. Because of its sweet flavour, Liquorice is also known as the sweet root. The root is perennial, tall, straight, strong, woody, and spherical.
The main active ingredient in LCR is glycyrrhizin. The root bark contains around 4% glycyrrhizin, which is about 50 times sweeter than sugar. Other than glycyrrhizin, there are antioxidants present in LCR which may include flavonoids, sterols, saponins, choline, and triterpenoids. The amino acids present in LCR are folic acid, asparagine, biotin, lecithin, pantothenic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid, protein, sugar, phosphorus, estrogenic substances, pentacyclic terpenes, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and vitamin E.
In Ayurveda, LCR is considered a special-class anti-aging herb that enhances longevity, nurtures and revitalises all seven tissues, improves the immunity of the body, and restores essential energies. It also belongs to the exclusive group of brain tonics used to treat mental and psychological disorders.
It has a sweet taste, cooling effects, and moisturising properties that help balance Vata and Pitta doshas. Moreover, it helps soothe a hyperactive digestive fire, improves levels of hormones, and the neurological system promotes lung health and improves your general resilience to stress. It is also often used as a vitality tonic to recover from sickness and to combat symptoms of persistent lethargy, poor motivation, and overall debilitation.
Here are some of the uses of LCR.
Cough syrups and herbal formulations containing Licorice Root extracts are used to treat the common cold, sore throat, excessive coughing, bronchitis, asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, and respiratory tract infections.
LCR tea has been used for centuries to alleviate digestive issues such as hyperacidity, acid reflux, heartburn, dyspepsia, constipation, bloating, abdominal cramps, and diarrhoea.
The combination of LCR and antibiotics helps treat the H. pylori bacteria effectively, which causes ulcerative colitis and is hard to cure with conventional medications alone.
Supplements containing deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) help protect the digestive system and treat gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and IBS.
LCR tea before bedtime can help reduce sleep latency and increase sleep quality.
Topical application of LCR based skin creams pacifies skin redness, swelling, itching, and pain from skin infections.
Using a Licorice-based ointment twice daily can significantly heal erythema and hyperpigmentation of the skin.
According to Ayurveda, the following are some of the potential health benefits of Licorice Root.
Licorice is well-known for its immune-boosting and respiratory properties. Ayurveda depicts Licorice Root as a natural demulcent and expectorant that moisturises mucous membranes, calms the upper respiratory system, strengthens the lungs, relieves congestion, and promotes healthy breathing. LCR helps to regulate the Vata dosha and eliminate excess Kapha from the lungs.
According to a 2021 research, components present in Licorice Root may help the immunity combat infection-causing bacteria and decrease upper respiratory tract infection. Glycyrrhizin, found in Licorice Roots, can interact with viral fusion proteins and inhibit the absorption of the virus into host cells.
Ayurveda considers digestion to be the foundation stone for good health and mental well-being. The power of your digestive flame (Agni) impacts the efficiency of your digestion, such as food breakdown, gastric juice production, and absorption of nutrients.
An underactive digestive flame might induce imperfect metabolism and the build-up of toxins, whereas an overactive flame can trigger higher stomach acidity and nutritional loss. Licorice's cooling properties help to maintain optimal Agni and encourage proper digestion.
Research indicates that the phytochemicals present in Licorice Root can inhibit gastrin formation, a hormone responsible for the secretion of stomach acids. High gastrin production can result in recurrent digestive issues and developing stomach ulcers. LCR extract has been shown to alleviate symptoms of chronic functional dyspepsia and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).
Licorice Root is a great prebiotic that helps strengthen the intestinal mucosal barrier function, reduce gut inflammation, and heal the intestinal lining. Flavonoids in Licorice Roots may help grow good gut bacteria, destroy dangerous pathogens and parasites, and restore microbiome balance. Healthy gut flora prevents metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and renal disease. Moreover, Licorice Root inhibits the growth of a variety of opportunistic microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Candida albicans, and Helicobacter pylori.
Ayurveda says your energy levels, emotional resilience, stamina, immunity, and strength depend on your vitality which is the essence of your body tissues and life. Vitality, or the Ojas, is the basic energy reserve derived from healthy foods and good digestion. It strengthens tissues, enhances skin tone, and protects against external factors. LCR has revitalising, relaxing, and deeply nourishing properties that can help create this delicate type of Kapha and preserve it from depletion and loss.
In Ayurveda, LCR is classified as a Medhya Rasayana which is a unique category of four medicinal herbs that enhance brain health and boost memory, intelligence, and cognition and improve concentration.
Studies found that LCR promotes blood circulation to the hippocampus in the brain, preserves brain cells from damage caused by oxidation, and boosts the nervous system. It is also a well-known antioxidant that helps manage chronic stress and adrenal depletion.
According to research, flavonoids present in Licorice Root extracts can lower inflammation and amyloid-beta plaques (toxins) in the brain, which can help prevent age-related cognitive waning and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
A 2020 animal study revealed that LCR could help restore the circadian rhythm of melatonin release which is essential for a balanced sleep-wake cycle. LCR supplements are taken before bedtime to enhance slow-wave sleep duration, which is the deepest stage of sleep and is essential for tissue regeneration and energy replenishment. It is because LCR has glabrol, a flavonoid that binds to GABA receptors in the brain and promotes rest and relaxation.
LCR is a fabulous emollient and skin vitalizer which effectively nourishes your skin and body from within. It has been used in homemade face packs to moisturise the skin, eliminate pigmentation spots, accelerate cell renewal, and facilitate wound healing.
Topical treatment with LCR benefits psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, and allergic skin diseases. Studies show that saponins present in LCR help manage sebum production, protect the skin from UV radiation, and combat free radicals. It also inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme that increases melanin formation and results in sun-induced dark patches.
Here are some of the side effects of LCR.
Long-term usage (more than 15 to 20 days) of LCR containing more than one gram of glycyrrhizin, can induce peripheral edema (fluid retention) due to sodium retention with potassium loss. This can result in elevated blood pressure.
Consuming 7 grams of LCR (roughly 500 mg glycyrrhizin), every day for seven days has been found to lower the testosterone levels in healthy males by inhibiting enzymes required for testosterone synthesis.
Licorice is not suggested for pregnant women since it might induce miscarriage or premature birth. Ingesting plenty of Licorice during pregnancy may significantly impair your baby's brain development.
If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or low potassium levels, or if you are breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before taking the Licorice Root supplement.
Long-term usage of Licorice root may cause peripheral edema or fluid retention, loss of potassium level, and high blood pressure.
The benefits of Licorice include the following.
Improves the immunity of the body and restores essential energies
It helps treat mental and psychological disorders
Helps soothe a hyperactive digestive fire and manages acid reflux
Improves levels of hormones and the neurological system
Promotes lung health and improves your general resilience to stress.
Helps treat common colds, respiratory infections, sore throats, insomnia, exhaustion, and several skin diseases and manages fatigue
Liquorice is not suggested for pregnant women because it might induce miscarriage or premature birth or may significantly impair the baby's brain development. Women who are breastfeeding, and people with high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or low potassium levels should consult with their doctor before taking the Licorice Root supplement.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions. Licorice is written as LCR and in this article.
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