From Dr. Mercola:
The scientific name for licorice root, Glycyrrhiza, comes from “glukos” (sweet) and “riza” (root). This “sweet root” contains glycyrrhizin, a compound that can be up to 50 times sweeter than sugar. So it’s not surprising that when many people think of licorice, they think of the confectionery by the same the name.
However, licorice is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean that’s been prized for its medicinal properties for centuries. In fact, its use is documented in Assyrian clay tablets and Egyptian papyri.
It was valued in ancient Arabia for treating coughs, while in ancient Greece it was also used for coughs along with asthma. The herb also has a history of use in China, where it was used to relieve irritation of the mucous membranes and spasms in the gastrointestinal tract.
Virtually all Chinese herbal formulas contain licorice because it assists in gastrointestinal absorption and “harmonizes” the herbal blends.1 In other words, it helps to enhance the effects of the other herbs.
In India, traditional Ayurvedic medicine regards licorice root as an expectorant, spasm-relieving, and anti-inflammatory, demulcent (relieves irritation of the mucous membranes) that also affects the function of the adrenal glands.2
The Many Versatile Uses of Licorice Root
Licorice is said to be one of the most extensively researched medicinal plants, and it has a lengthy list of versatile uses to match. Here are some of its claims to fame:
1. Relieve Stomach Ulcers
Licorice has antibacterial properties and has been found to help relieve stomach ulcers (many of which are caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria). Germany’s Commission E approved the use of licorice root for treating ulcers.
2. Sore Throat, Cough and Cold Remedy
One of licorice root’s most well-known uses is to ease congestion from coughs and colds. It acts as an expectorant, helping to loosen and expel phlegm, and it also has a soothing effect on irritated mucous membranes.
The German Standard License approves licorice root infusions for loosening mucus and alleviating discharge in bronchitis, while the British Herbal Compendium indicates the use of licorice root for bronchitis.3
3. Acid Reflux and Digestive Support
Licorice root is beneficial for digestion and helps soothe irritation and inflammation of your digestive tract.
It is approved for treating painful spasms associated with chronic gastritis by the German Standard License, and in France licorice root may be used to treat bloating, impaired digestion and gas.4
An extract of licorice was also found to alleviate symptoms of functional dyspepsia (upset stomach),5 and a combination of extracts from licorice, chamomile, silverweed, angelica, blessed thistle and wormwood is effective in relieving indigestion and mild gastrointestinal complaints, including vomiting.6
4. Anti-Inflammatory and Immune System Support
More than 400 compounds have been isolated from licorice, including isoliquiritigenin and naringenin. These constituents promote regulatory T cell induction, which plays a critical role in controlling immune responses and preventing autoimmunity.7
According to research published in Scientific Reports, licorice exhibits a number of beneficial properties for