Licorice root has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy for digestive discomfort. It’s been particularly popular in Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean. Today, it has many benefits for treating digestive disorders, including leaky gut syndrome.
Just like with licorice candy, licorice root has that distinctive candy flavouring that most people love. Many people buy licorice root for health in a form of tea or extract but there are other forms available. Generally, sugar isn’t added to these healthy products like candy has. People who wish to improve the taste may add honey, but it’s best to drink it straight to avoid putting on weight or stressing out an already overworked pancreas.
Where Does Licorice Root Come from?
Licorice root is an herb. Some people may grow it in their gardens or in small indoor pots, but it’s not as commonly grown at home like some of the other herbs are. The easiest way to acquire it is by purchasing licorice root products from a local or online shop.
Licorice is actually a member of the legume family. It’s mostly commonly grown in Europe and Asia, but some species grow in the USA. Two common varieties that are safe for human consumption are Glycyrrhiza glabra—grown in Asia and Europe—and Glycyrrhiza uralensis—sold as Chinese licorice.
Even though there are two different varieties, they both have pretty much the same benefits. Glycyrrhiza glabra is more commonly what is found in our store-brand products. Its nickname can be “sweet root”.
The root is the primary portion of the licorice plant that’s used to make the tea and extract.
You may see labels with “DGL Licorice”. This means that it has been deglycyrrhized. While there are many beneficial compounds in licorice root, this is one of the more problematic ones. For this reason, it’s often removed from our tea blends and extracts. It’s up to you as to which type you choose. DGL has many benefits that the non-DGL has.
Is Licorice Root Tea or Extract Better?
This is up to your preferences. Licorice root tea may include some other herbs and ingredients, so if you’re aiming to drink the tea after a big spicy meal, ensure that your tea is 100% licorice root.
If you prefer to pour the extract into a glass of water or juice, you should note that the extract is actually 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar. That’s why candy makers of the past were inspired to create licorice candy.
There are also chewable licorice root supplements that you can chew to help you to feel better. Unlike candy, these don’t contain sugar.
Some people prefer a light tea blend, rather than a strong sugary substance. It’s up to you, as both have the same benefits.
Best Way to Consume Licorice Root
Licorice root comes in two main forms that can be consumed. The first is in a tea blend. This can be brewed with hot water, then drunk. There is also licorice tea extract, which can be poured into a glass of water, tea, or fruit juice. Drinking the tea is perhaps the tastiest and easiest way to consume it, as then you don’t have to worry about proper dosages.
It’s recommended that you don’t consume more than six grams a day of licorice root per 130 pound/60 kg person. If you’re drinking the tea, don’t drink it more than 3 times a day.
You should not continually take licorice root extract if it’s not DGL. Treat it for your specific health condition for 1 to 3 months straight, then stop taking it. If you are taking the DGL form of licorice root, there are no restrictions.
8 Health Benefits of Using Licorice Root
Licorice root tea tastes delicious but many people may wish to consume the tea for its health benefits too. Since it’s consumed in a liquid or tea blend, its main benefits will help your digestive and your immune system. Many people don’t know that the the stomach is the first step in turning on our immune systems, but certain foods can upset our stomachs, causing unpleasant reactions.
Here are 8 of the best reasons to drink licorice root tea or extract for health now.
1. Soothes Coughs & Sore Throats from Cold & Flu Bugs
The most annoying part of a cold or flu bug is an intensely sore throat. This is usually caused by excess phlegm, which leads to excessively coughing that keeps you up all night long. Licorice root can soothe an irritated sore throat, and calm down bad coughs. It works as a natural expectorant, helping to move the phlegm out of lungs and respiratory passages so that you can breathe more easily.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help calm down a swollen sore throat. Some of the best ways to do this are with a demulcent. A demulcent is a product that makes direct contact with the body part that needs soothing. Licorice root is one of the ingredients listed on natural cough drops and cough syrups and has been used traditionally for this purpose.
2. Gives a Boost to the Immune System
Licorice root will provide a strong boost to the immune system, whether it’s already working well, or it is compromised due to illness. The immune system is not only responsible for protecting us from cold and flu bugs, but it also protects us from free radicals that can damage healthy cells. It helps to fight off cancer cells that can lead to tumours.
The immune system protects us from bad diseases that can cause death, such as hepatitis, viruses, and food poisoning. Licorice root partners up with the immune system to provide strong protection. When we consume licorice root, it heads to our stomach, which is where our immune system begins to work. Licorice root contains antioxidants that fight free radicals, also know as harmful substances, in our bodies. This is an additional layer of protection that it can give to the body.
3. Excellent Pain Reliever
Licorice root works well as a pain reliever. It’s good for people who are hesitant in taking prescription or OTC pain relievers that also have side effects. People can sip the licorice tea at work, without worrying about experiencing dizziness or a foggy brain.
Licorice root works well as an antispasmodic for muscle injuries. It can also help to alleviate pain and cramps in the stomach and intestines. Its soothing powers can help people who suffer food intolerances but aren’t certain what set them off.
Licorice root extract can be used for topical application too. It can be used to rub directly into the skin to help decrease the discomfort experienced by eczema or psoriasis. It can help to soothe bruises and scrapes. It acts naturally as a hydrocortisone, without the hormonal side effects.
4. Helps to Prevent Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is a big concern today. Our bodies are subject to toxins from the polluted cities we live in, from water that isn’t adequately filtered, and unhealthy food that is treated with pesticides and grown unnaturally as GMOs. Many of us are too busy to cook healthy foods, so instead, we buy fake foods full of unnatural additives. This leads to our adrenal glands running into overtime, or worse, failing completely. There are many serious illnesses that can occur when our adrenal glands fail.
If you’re suffering cold after cold in the winter, it may be due to adrenal fatigue. Your immune function isn’t strong enough anymore. It’s important to get back on track, as you don’t want it to fail you when you need it most—to fight off those cancer cells that want to grow tumours. Licorice root can provide the adrenal support that our body needs.
5. Treats PMS, Menopause & Other Hormonal Imbalances
Licorice root is effective at treating hormonal imbalances in women. It has an estrogen-like effect that can replace hormones when they’re decreasing in the body. It can be used to treat PMS symptoms and fertility concerns. It’s also effective at treating menopause. There have been studies done that have shown that it’s more effective than using traditional hormone replacement therapy treatments. It’s also effective at reducing the duration of hot flashes.
Licorice root is also a much safer natural remedy to take than hormone replacements. This minimizes any potential side effects from taking synthetic hormones. Headaches, cramps, and other discomforts will be minimized when taking licorice root during these times.
6. Effective Leaky Gut Syndrome Treatment
Leaky gut syndrome can lead to a variety of health issues. This condition is often difficult to diagnose, and can be difficult to treat. It’s believed that in certain people, the intestines will suffer from chronic inflammation that can affect the rest of the body. There may be other conditions that result. These can include chronic fatigue, migraines, lupus, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases.
Licorice root can help treat this inflammatory condition. Since it has a soothing effect on other types of inflammation in the body, it’s also effective for treating the lower gut too. It’s even effective at treating ulcers, and helping them to heal. It’s a good overall leaky gut supplement to help sufferers to feel better.
7. Soothes Heartburn & Gas from Food Intolerances
Many people suffer from heartburn, gas and other digestive issues from food intolerances. It can be difficult figuring out what types of food make you sensitive. Drinking a cup of licorice root tea can help to soothe heartburn, gas, and other digestive disturbances.
Licorice root tea is also a good treatment for indigestion, stomach pain, and nausea. The best type of licorice root to treat these conditions is the type that is DGL, without the glycyrrhizin in it.
8. Decreases Acid Reflux Condition
Many people suffer from excessive acid reflux. This may be due to the excessive production of stomach acid in the stomach, or it may be due to a valve in the throat that’s not closing properly and causing excessive stomach acid to come back up at the wrong times.
Licorice root naturally helps to neutralize stomach acid to help decrease that uncomfortable burning sensation in the throat. It also helps to minimize that unpleasant aftertaste you can get when stomach acid enters the back of your throat.
Precautions When Consuming Licorice Root
Just like with any type of organic plant, herb, or spice, licorice root can cause allergies and side effects. It can also affect your other medications. Follow a few precautions and you’ll be able to safely consume it.
- Glycyrrhizin is mainly responsible for any side effects in licorice root. You can purchase the DGL option if this is a concern.
- Do not take licorice root if you’re pregnant, as it may cause premature delivery due to its effect on hormones.
- If you have heart, liver, or kidney conditions, consult with a physician first.
- Don’t give licorice root to children.
- If you have cancer, it can have an effect on your hormones, so you should avoid it. Do not take if you have hypertonia or potassium deficiencies.
- If you experience high blood pressure, low potassium levels, or chronic fatigue after taking licorice root, then discontinue usage.
- Direct all concerns to your physician.
Licorice root comes in two easy forms for taking—extract or tea. Some people prefer the quicker way of taking an extract, while others prefer sipping tea over several hours. There are also other forms, including unsweetened candy and the dried roots. You may wish to try a variety of different licorice root products until you find something that works for you.
Taking licorice root will provide maximum benefits to your digestive system, but can also help your adrenal or hormonal problems too. It’ll even help to provide a boost of immune support for those times in the winter when everyone around you is sick.
Best of all, licorice root tea tastes good, and it will freshen your breath and give you a good boost of health and wellness during a stressful week.