Are you thinking about licorice candy? Well, don’t, because we’re not talking about that type of licorice. Licorice candy rarely has any actual licorice in it.
We’re talking about licorice root!
Licorice root is a fantastic herb that has a variety of benefits and uses. The root is traditionally used in a dried form for teas, but the applications and forms of licorice are seemingly endless.
Licorice root has a superb sweet taste that makes it pair well with many other herbs and makes it easy to take.
Here’s your complete guide to the benefits and uses of this ancient herb!
History of licorice and its uses.
Did you know that licorice is actually a legume? That’s right–think soybeans and garbanzo beans!
Although licorice is not exactly the type of herb you think you’d want in the afterlife (especially since I just compared it to chickpeas), apparently King Tut so valued this herb that he was buried with excessive amounts of it. Licorice was widely used throughout ancient civilizations for a variety of ailments.
Licorice is prominent throughout Europe and Asia, and people have used it for centuries in combination with other herbs to help heal the body.
Now that we know a bit of history about this fabulous root, let’s discover the best forms of it to take.
The best forms of licorice to take.
Licorice is a popular herb that’s widely available in the form of teas, supplements, tinctures, and powders.
As a powder, licorice typically takes on the form of deglycyrrhizinated licorice, otherwise known as DGL. You may have seen this form of licorice in supplements such as powders for leaky gut.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice is a special form of licorice which has had the glycyrrhizin compound removed from the herb. This is because while glycyrrhizin can certainly be beneficial, too much glycyrrhizin can cause symptoms such as high blood pressure and hormone problems.
You can also make a tea out of the dried root of licorice. This herb tends to be on the sweeter side, so not much is needed to add a smooth, sweet flavor to your tea!
There are also tinctures and capsules you can take. Tinctures are best for short term relief of more severe symptoms. Capsules can generally provide a safe dose when taken as directed for occasional symptoms.
Drinking a licorice tea is both simple and effective, and you may also choose to take a DGL supplement. DGL can be safer for long-term use, but in general, licorice should not be taken long term.
Always discuss the method and dosage of your licorice use with your natural healthcare professional!
Why is licorice used?
These are some of the top benefits of licorice root: from a gut healer to a chronic pain reliever, the benefits of licorice root are numerous!.
Leaky Gut: Although the more professional name is intestinal permeability, you’ll often hear this condition referred to as leaky gut. Leaky gut happens when your gut is damaged due to stress, antibiotic use, or illness. It’s predicted that leaky gut is the root of all autoimmune disease.
This is because the gut barrier that’s responsible for keeping out undigested food particles and toxins can get damaged and allow things to pass through the barrier that normally would not be allowed through–these include toxins, undigested food, and bacteria.
Once these agents enter the bloodstream, your body typically responds with inflammation: an autoimmune response.
You’d be surprised by all the symptoms this can lead to: including eczema, anxiety, food intolerances, allergies, and more!
The good news is that licorice is a powerful herb when it comes to healing your leaky gut. It helps to support a healthy gut lining and, when used properly with other herbs, can help to restore proper gut function.
Best form to take: Powder supplement or tea.
Adrenal Fatigue: Adrenal fatigue happens when your adrenal glands (which are responsible for releasing and balancing vital hormones) are affected by chronic stress or illness.
As a result of this, people often feel extremely tired yet have difficulty sleeping, and experience other symptoms such as depression, weight gain, and chronic inflammation.
Licorice root is very helpful in the treatment of adrenal fatigue because of its effect on cortisol levels. It helps to stimulate circulation of cortisol levels in the blood and prevents the breakdown of cortisol in the liver.
Licorice root can also help to restore normal sleep patterns in people with adrenal fatigue. It can help to relieve stress and increase energy–two crucial components for those suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Licorice has also been compared to the natural hormones of the body, therefore helping to restore adrenal balance naturally through its use.
Best form to take: Extract or tea.
Heartburn: Or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), is typically a symptom of indigestion that can cause chest pain or burning.
This is because the strong stomach acids responsible for breaking down your food can end up in your esophagus, which can be very painful, not to mention damaging to your esophagus as well as your teeth.
Licorice root can help relieve symptoms of heartburn by reducing stomach acids (therefore addressing the root problem of indigestion itself), preventing inflammation, and essentially stopping symptoms before they start!
Best form to take: Powder of DGL (half teaspoon before meals).
Sore throat: Nothing is quite as bothersome as a sore throat. Ranging from mildly annoying to extremely painful, a sore throat can put a damper on your day like no other symptom!
Whether you have a cold or just seasonal allergies, licorice can help relieve a sore throat. Its soothing anti-inflammatory properties can help you to feel better while removing excess mucous from your membranes.
Research also shows that licorice works as an effective gargling rinse when mixed with water to relieve sore throats!
Best form to take: Tea.
Chronic Pain: Chronic pain from an old injury or from a rheumatoid arthritis can hinder your quality of life. Many people I see who have been suffering from chronic pain for years often feel hopeless.
There is always hope that your chronic pain will get better, and licorice is a soothing herbal root that can help.
Licorice mimics the action of cortisol, as we’ve discussed, and research shows that it helps to decrease inflammation in the body that’s often responsible for chronic pain.
Licorice can also help to ease the depression and anxiety that often come with chronic pain, and help you to better manage your symptoms!
Best form to take: Powder of DGL, supplements, or tea.
Immune System Booster: Licorice root has been shown to have detoxifying effects on the body by reducing free radicals and provoking immune reactions through stimulating T-cell production; research shows it can help to stimulate the immune system.
It’s important to note that DGL will be largely ineffective when it comes to the immune system–the active agent glycyrrhizin is essential for immunity!
Best form to take: Tea.
Menstruation and Menopausal Support: Licorice is considered to be a phytoestrogen, meaning it mimics the action of natural estrogen in our bodies.
As a result of this, licorice can help reduce the symptoms of both pre-menstruation syndrome (PMS) and menopause.Research shows that licorice is an effective remedy for reducing the length of hot flashes, even more than prescription drugs!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I use licorice root in combination with white peony to help my patients reduce painful menstrual cramps.
Best form to take: Tea or tincture.
Stomach Soother: This is perhaps one of the most commonly known benefits of licorice root–to help with digestion!
Not only does licorice help soothe ulcers, but its anti-inflammatory properties as well as antispasmodic compounds can help to reduce stomach pain associated with stress, indigestion, or chronic illness.
Since licorice can also help with heartburn and leaky gut as we’ve already seen, it’s even more effective for your gastrointestinal symptoms!
Licorice can also help to relieve constipation and research shows it reduces irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms!
Best form to take: Tea or powder.
For a proven brain booster, give licorice a try!
The active agent in licorice, glycyrrhizin, can actually work as a brain energizer. It has antioxidant properties, increases circulation, and can even help improve memory in patients with dementia, according to research.
Licorice has also been noted to help restore memory from amnesia and even help with different types of brain damage. Since the glycyrrhizin compound is an active part of the nootropic effects of licorice, deglycyrrhized licorice would be largely ineffective here.
Best form to take: Tea or supplements.
Eczema Calmer: Licorice works as an excellent anti-inflammatory herb, meaning it can help to calm the inflammation process that happens during eczema.
Used as a natural remedy, licorice can help calm the body’s reaction to the triggers of eczema and even help to soothe existing breakouts. Licorice can also help increase circulation to the skin and even help reduce skin aging according to research.
The DGL form of licorice is best avoided when it comes to skin, and always consult with your herbalist in regards to long-term uses for eczema breakouts.
Best form to take: Tea and supplements (licorice is an essential ingredient in the anti-eczema formula I put together).
Pair licorice with these herbs
Licorice is a delicious drink by itself (and can add extra sweetness to smoothies as a powder or supplement), but there are other herbs that you can pair licorice with for maximum benefits!
Try combinations such as:
- Licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow root for leaky gut.
- Licorice and cinnamon for a sore throat.
- Licorice and white peony root for menstrual cramps.
- Licorice and ginger for an extra powerful stomach soother.
- Licorice, turmeric, and cinnamon for a brain tonic.
Licorice has been a well-reputed herb for centuries around the world. This root has so many applications, it’s no wonder you find licorice tea everywhere! Not to mention it’s delicious.
It’s always important to consult your herbalist or natural health doctor before taking a new supplement. Remember that licorice should not be taken long term, and that DGL can sometimes be a better fit for your symptoms than traditional licorice.
What’s your favorite form of licorice to take? Have you found any worthwhile combinations? Let us know!