5 Amazing Benefits of Licorice..Should You Give It Another Try
For the past at least 10 years every time I turn around I am reading something about the benefits of licorice. I have mentioned to our clients at Energy Fitness personal training, nutrition coaching and massage therapy studio that they may wish to consider trying some licorice tea as an introductory for stress relief. It can also aid in reducing belly fat from too much cortisol production from the stress. There are more than 300 different compounds in licorice, some of which have antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
Did you know Licorice is a legume that grows about 5 feet tall? That means it’s in the bean category. When people think of licorice, they usually imagine the black, chewy candy you can buy in the store. You may be thinking it’s just so strong a taste I can’t bear to eat everyday. It definitely has a very unique taste which stops your taste buds in its tracks. What if you could bypass the tongue and go for a supplement? After reading the benefits you may wanna give it a try. There is a licorice variety that is native to the U.S called Glycyrrhiza lepidota, though it’s much less intense in flavor. Glycyrrhiza uralensis is also known as Chinese licorice. It has a sweet flavor and multiple medicinal uses.
Licorice has a history of use in food and medicine for over a millennium. This tasty root comes packed with potent polyphenol micronutrients that have potent medicinal effects for curing anything from nausea to heartburn, and leaky gut. It’s called mulethi in some parts of Asia. The licorice plant is native to the lands of Asia and Southern Europe, and some call it a weed in some of those areas. Its most popular uses are candy, sweeteners, and flavoring in tobacco products. This widely-used herb has established health benefits, and folk medicine uses it to treat all types of inflammatory diseases.
Glycyrrhizin is the active polyphenol compound found in licorice, and it’s also responsible for the side-effects of consuming too much licorice, such as high blood pressure. As a result, many food producers and supplement companies now produce licorice extract for use in therapeutic and food applications – but with the glycyrrhizin removed. Consuming too much licorice can cause potassium loss which can raise blood pressure.
Benefits of Licorice
- Improve digestive health which may be affected by Gerd (acid reflux), reduce toxic bacteria in the gut
2) Beneficial in a weight loss diet by ramping up the metabolism. Many people that struggle with weight and controlling appetite would benefit from Licorice because consumption affects the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone – thereby reducing appetite. Now don’t go on a mad rush to order or buy licorice because alone it won’t have any significant fat-burning effect. Remember it’s all about finding tweaks in habits and what works for you and combining it with regular exercise and a healthy diet to provide a synergistic effect that helps you burn more body fat. Exercise, eat healthy 80% of the time and then stick of licorice for dessert or try one of the suggested protocols below.
3) Enhance Liver health. Drinking in moderation. Keep in mind everyone has a different idea of what moderation is – 1 glass a few times per week as a trainer is more than necessary if you are trying to have optimal health and always trying to lose weight. Drinking in moderation the liver produces enzymes to help repair the damage but those that drink more the liver can’t repair fast enough and hence fat is stored. Try a few licorice chews on the way to the bar as a preventive test drive to better liver health.
4) Improve Cognitive Health & relieve fatigue (think brain and quick thinking): licorice, namely carbenoxolone, has been shown in reducing stress and slowing brain aging that may lead to the development of dementia. Licorice also contains liquiritigenin, has an anti-inflammatory effect and can have a positive effect on brain cells, showing promise as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Other reports out there suggest that is could help prevent other brain and cognitive disorders like Parkinson’s and boost memory and aid in treatment of depression. Here’s another component present in licorice, amorphousness which has anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to reduce blood sugar, inhibit the development of insulin resistance, and prevent Type-2 diabetes. Research shows that licorice helps slow the progression of neurological symptoms and provides relief from chronic fatigue.
5) Improve sleep: Who doesn’t want to sleep better? One specific type of licorice root, called Glycyrrhiza glabra, is known to induce sleep and enhance sleep duration. Two other common compounds in licorice root, namely Gabriel and liquiritigenin, also help induce sleep, reducing the time it takes you to fall asleep at night. These compounds increase the length of non-REM sleep without disturbing deep sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation transpires when a person gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert, due to the brain not being able to clear toxins from neural pathways during sleep.
Licorice has also been proven to help with eczema, heartburn, and cough. It may also be effective for cankers, dental plaque, bleeding, high cholesterol, high potassium, IBS, and hot flashes. If you have high blood pressure or are pregnant, you may want to talk to your doctor before using licorice medicinally.
WARNING: Even though I am touting the benefits of licorice remember that more isn’t always better. You should never consume excessive amounts of licorice in food or supplement form.
Here are some suggestions from a brand we love that is a science and medical foods based company:
If you just enjoy the taste of licorice then go bold but remember that as with anything dosage and consistency is key. Try traditional medicinals licorice root tea or the Yogi teas and of course straight licorice chews if you dare, just watch for sugar content from the companies that are trying to make it more appealing by amping up sugar content.
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Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM
Owner/Dir. of Training, Energy Fitness (established 2002)
ACSM, TPI Level 1 Certified, Rock Tape, Rock Pods (cupping therapy), Rock Tape Blades & Blades Advanced
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