Licorice – Add Sweetness to Your Day

by Nutrition

 

Add Sweetness to Your Day with Licorice

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a woody perennial native to parts of Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean region. Licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin which is fifty times sweeter than table sugar. As such, this plant is commonly used in the food industry as an additive to baked goods, beverages, and various sweets. Licorice is also used in some cultures as a mouth freshener and tooth cleaner.

Medicinally, licorice has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. The main part of the plant used for this purpose is the rhizome. The supportive properties of this wonderful plant are extensive. Licorice rhizome is considered supportive with coughs, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, may reduce heartburn symptoms, can protect the kidneys and liver, etc. It is strongly antimicrobial and can help with many viruses including herpes simplex-1 (think cold sores) and varicella (think chicken pox). Licorice was also found to help support healthy menopause in women. It helps support healthy hormones by reducing testosterone production, especially in women, has estrogen-like actions, and has been shown to reduce body fat. Additionally, it was also found to reduce the occurrence of hot flashes.

Licorice can be purchased in syrups, extracts, tea, powders, etc., from most health food stores. It has a cooling, sweet flavor which can be easily enjoyed as a tea, especially during the winter months. As it is a rhizome, it should be allowed to steep covered for 8 to 10 minutes before consuming. This herb is generally well-tolerated in healthy adults at 1 to 2 grams daily, but it should not be used daily for more than a couple of weeks due to how it can affect hormones. Licorice can interfere with how your body processes medications, so it should be used with caution under the advice of your health professional. It should not be used if you have kidney or heart disease without a doctor’s supervision.

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