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Licorice Root

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Licorice Root - Glycyrrhiza glabra

Supports respiratory function; soothes mucus tissue, such as the throat and respiratory system; occasional acid indigestion; soothes & maintains gastrointestinal health; promotes energy; supports hormonal balance; supports adrenal health.

It is a popular and well-known remedy for coughs, consumption and chest complaints generally, notably bronchitis, and is an ingredient in almost all popular cough medicines on account of its valuable soothing properties.

The Extract enters into the composition of cough lozenges and pastilles, with sedatives and expectorants. It is largely used in conjunction with infusion of linseed in the treatment of irritable cough, sore throat and laryngitis, and an infusion made by boiling 1 OZ. of the bruised root deprived of its bark, with 1 pint of water for a few minutes, may be employed in the treatment of sore throat and in catarrhal conditions of the urinary intestinal tracts.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is native to the Mediterranean, where it has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Today, women may benefit from this sweet and fragrant root in a number of ways. Recent data indicate, for instance, that extracts of a Glycyrrhiza species exhibit estrogenic activity and put the brakes on breast cancer cells in the laboratory.73 Specifically, the licorice extract induced apoptosis, or programmed suicide, in a line of human breast cancer cells.

Remarkably, this flavorful herb also exhibits activities that may ameliorate other common menopausal maladies, including depression, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. In 2003, Israeli scientists reported that certain flavonoids extracted from licorice root inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin, much as estradiol does. Serotonin is a neuro- transmitter that is thought to play an important role in regulating mood. Modern antidepressant drugs such as sertraline and fluoxetine (Prozac®) act in precisely this manner to alleviate depression. “This study showed that several isoflavans are unique phytoestrogens,” wrote the researchers, “and, thus, potentially may be beneficial for mild to moderate Depression in pre-and post-menopausal women.”

Noting that postmenopausal women are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly due to declining estrogen levels, another team of Israeli researchers investigated licorice root’s effects on blood vessels. Because it has estrogen-like properties, licorice extract stimulated DNA synthesis in human endothelial cells and affected the production of human vascular smooth muscle cells. “We suggest the use of glabrene [extracted from licorice root] with or without estradiol as a new agent for modulation of vascular injury and atherogenesis for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women,” the scientists concluded.

Finally, Korean researchers recently determined that glabridin, a biochemical extracted from licorice root, exerted powerful influences on bone precursor cells known as osteoblasts in the laboratory. The extract acted in several ways to promote the growth and Health of these crucial bone cells. According to the researchers, “Our data indicate that the enhancement of osteoblast function by glabridin may result in the prevention of osteoporosis and inflammatory bone disease.”76 Scientists at Israel’s Tel-Aviv University have also demonstrated an osteoporosis-fighting effect of licorice components.

In herbalism it is used in the Hoxsey anti-cancer formula, and is a considered adaptogen which helps reregulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It can also be used for auto-immune conditions including lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis and animal dander allergies. Licorice may be useful in conventional and naturopathic medicine for both mouth ulcers[15] and peptic ulcers. Licorice is also a mild laxative and may be used as a topical antiviral agent for shingles, ophthalmic, oral or genital herpes.

The plants are graceful, with light, spreading, pinnate foliage, presenting an almost feathery appearance from a distance. The leaflets (like those of the False Acacia) hang down during the night on each side of the midrib, though they do not meet beneath it. From the axils of the leaves spring racemes or spikes of papilionaceous small pale-blue, violet, yellowish-white or purplish flowers, followed by small pods somewhat resembling a partly-grown peapod in form. In the type species glabra, the pods are smooth, hence the specific name; in others they are hairy or spiny.

Not until the end of the third season will the roots be ready to take up for use, but harvesting generally occurs only in the autumn of the fourth year. The soil is carefully removed from the space between the rows to a depth of 2 or 3 feet as required, thus exposing the roots and rhizomes at the side, the whole being then removed bodily. The earth from the next space is then removed and thrown into the trench thus formed and these operations are repeated continuously. Every portion of the subterranean part of the plant is carefully saved, the drug consisting of both runners and roots, the former constituting the major part. The roots proper are washed, trimmed and sorted, and either sold in their entire state or cut into shorter lengths and dried, in the latter case the cortical layer being sometimes removed by scraping. The older or 'hard' runners are sorted out and sold separately; the young, called 'soft,' are reserved for propagation.

Don't use licorice if you have high blood pressure, and don't use licorice if you are on a meat and potatoes diet. Your body needs potassium from fruit and vegetables to compensate for the excretion of potassium stimulated by licorice.
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.