Licorice Root and Plant Medicinal Benefits


This herb is considered beneficial for:

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Licorice Root

Licorice Root Licorice was used historically to treat the skin and coughs. It is also used to treat constipation, bronchitis, inflammation, and arthritis. Licorice may be prescribed by health care providers to treat adrenocortical insufficiency, peptic ulcer, and chronic gastritis.

Glycyrrhizin, a glycoside, makes up almost 8% of the licorice plant. These chemical compounds could have positive effects on the body. Two enzymes that break down prostaglandin E (PGE) are stopped by glycyrrhizin. Low levels of PGE are linked to problems such as stomach inflammation, colic, and ulcers. Glycyrrhizin stops the enzymes from lowering PGE levels allowing levels to increase. Increased PGE aids the production of stomach mucus which lowers the high acid levels that can lead to stomach disorders. Respiratory mucus production is also increased by glycyrrhizin. This increase helps the mucus to lose stickiness and leave the body more easily. Licorice can also rid lungs of mucus and is used to treat problems such as bronchitis and to relieve coughing and sore throats. Many cough lozenges and syrups use licorice as flavoring and as a cough suppressant.

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses licorice to treat problems from tuberculosis to diabetes. Restrained production of cortisol and anti-inflammatory effects are caused by the flavonoids and glycyrrhizin in licorice. Research has shown that licorice flavonoids can kill the bacteria that causes stomach inflammation and ulcers, called Helicobacter pylori. Licorice is thought to have other antiviral properties, but none have been proven thus far.

Liquiritin, a licorice extract, is used as treatment for a skin pigmentation disorder called melasma. The effectiveness of licorice on this condition has not yet been proven.

Dosage and Administration

The following forms of licorice can be taken:

  • DGL extract: 0.4 to 1.6 g three times daily to treat peptic ulcer; in chewable tablet form 300 to 400 mg 20 minutes prior to meals to treat peptic ulcer
  • Tincture: 2 to 4 mL three times per day
  • Dried root: 1 to 5 g three times per day as decoction
To treat sore throats in older children, use licorice tea or chew a licorice piece. To find the correct amount of tea, adjust the adult dose to the child’s weight. Adult dosages are calculated from a 150 lb adult. A 50 lb child should take 1/3 of the adult dosage.

Large amounts of licorice or chewing licorice flavored products and tobacco can put you at risk for licorice toxicities and side effects.

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