Liquorice or licorice is the root of the plant named Glycyrrhiza glabra. The sweet taste of licorice comes from the molecule glycyrrhizin, which is about 50 times sweeter than sugar. Its pleasant smell comes from the volatile oils (essential oils) it contains.
The roots of the licorice plant are straight and round and grow horizontally underground. They are brown on the outside and have a yellow tint on the inside. The fresh root is about 50% water while the dried root is only about 10% water.
It is used to make candies, sweets, herbal infusions, soft drinks, liquor, and some tobacco products to enhance the flavor and taste. It is also used as a spice.
10 Nutrition Health Benefits of Liquorice
1. Aids in Digestion
Liquorice root is a natural antacid that helps to relieve heartburn, indigestion, gastric and stomach ulcers, acid reflux and symptoms of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). It works by coating the digestive tract with mucous, protecting the stomach lining whilst speeding up its repair and restoring balance.
Liquorice also contains glycyrrhizic acid which is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been found to suppress the growth of the toxic bacteria “H pylori” – a nasty little bug that can lead to a whole host of stomach problems. It also has diuretic and mildly laxative effects which helps reduce stomach bloating, water retention and constipation.
2. Respiratory Health
Liquorice can increase the production of healthy mucous within the bronchial system. Whilst this may appear counterintuitive to a cough or a cold, the production of healthy phlegm actually keeps the respiratory system functioning well and prevents the old, sticky mucous from clogging up the respiratory tracts.It can also fight off the viruses that cause respiratory illnesses as well as relaxing bronchial spasms.
3. Liver Health
Liquorice protects and promotes the healing of the liver. Its anti-inflammatory properties help calm hepatitis-associated liver inflammation. Liquorice also fights the virus commonly responsible for hepatitis and supplies valuable antioxidant compounds that help maintain the overall health of the liver.
Numerous studies have found that the active compound in Liquorice can effectively block liver damage caused by alcohol and over the counter pain killers. The glycyrrhizin found in this root is a potent free radical scavenger, especially in the liver.
4. Anti – depressant
Liquorice is known to have 8 different anti-depressant compounds, known as MOA (monoamine oxidase) inhibitors. These inhibitors are capable of potent antidepressant activity and show significant improvement for all types of depression. The compound, “glycyrrhizin” breaks down cortisol, the stress hormone, enabling the body to deal with stress. It also contains “Isoflavan” and “Isoflavene”, additional compounds that have been shown to have antidepressant properties.
Nutrition Health Benefits of Liquorice
Research shows that Liquorice is a powerful adaptogenic herb, able to help the body to manage the stress hormone “cortisol” more efficiently. It is very nourishing for burned out adrenals and is best used during times of chronic fatigue and tiredness that usually results in frequent illness.
6. Lowers Cholestrol
The flavonoids in licorice increases the body’s flow of bile, with research suggesting that bile acids account for the lowering of excessive cholesterol in the body.
7. Boosts Immunity
Licorice has triterpenoid content that has been confirmed as an anti viral, making licorice extract a potentially strong partner for the immune system.
8. Pain Relief
Licorice has antispasmodic effect which have an effect on cramps both abdominal and in the muscles.Topucally locorice can sooth pain associated with eczema and other dermal conditions as it acts as a hydrocortisone.
9. Hair Health
Licorice root can be essential in the prevention of hair loss. Licorice root has mollifying properties and this can help open up the pores of the scalp. This can also help reduce scalp redness and irritation that might be causing hair loss.
10. Oral Health
Licorice root contain licoricidin and licorisoflavan A which inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause cavities. The root also helps prevent periodontitis, which is a serious oral disease that destroys the gums and bones and tissues that maintain the teeth.
Effects of Licorice
Liquorice should not be taken by people on digoxin-based drugs. It should also be avoided during pregnancy and in cirrhosis of the liver. It may interfere with the calcium and potassium absorption. Do not use if you are suffering from osteoporosis, hypertension (increases water around heart).
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