Have you seen, heard of or tried licorice before? Licorice is a species of plant highly valued for its rich flavor and essential nutrients. In fact, it can provide relief from menopausal symptoms, peptic ulcers, PMS, respiratory ailments, stomach disorders and canker sores. Not only that, it is also beneficial in fighting against various types of infections, like shingles, hepatitis, HIV and herpes. There is more to licorice than meets the eye. If you want to learn more, feel free to give this article a read.
What is Licorice?
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Licorice is part of the Glycyrrhiza plant species and is loved by a lot of people due to its opulent flavor. Its name actually comes from the Greek word meaning sweet root. This particular herb, native to Southern Europe and Asia, is often considered a sweet root due to the glycyrrhizin in it. This component, found in the plant’s root, is sweeter than sugar.
There’s been a lot of appreciation for licorice in Chinese medicine for over a thousand years. In fact, it’s often called the peacemaker herb there. Licorice is one of the most extensively consumed herbs in the world, and it is now grown in Asia, the Middle East, Germany, England, France, Spain and Russia
Licorice is a wood-stemmed, perennial herb which grows to a height of 1-2 meters. It has long, wrinkled roots that spread out horizontally. Along with its culinary uses, people love it for its medicinal benefits. Licorice has been used to boost vitality since the ancient times. Its extract has phytoestrogens that help promote detoxification, immune defense, dental health and healthy hair and skin. Licorice can also help combat depression and body odor.
Nutritional Value of Licorice
The licorice offers a wide array of essential flavonoids and nutrients. It is a great source of pantothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin E, or tocopherol. Furthermore, it may also provide essential minerals like zinc, silicon, selenium, potassium, magnesium, iron, choline, calcium and phosphorus, and it’s a powerhouse of important phytonutrients like quercetin, ferulic acid, phenol, thymol, isoliquiritigenin, glabridin, glycyrrhizin and beta-carotene.
Health Benefits of Licorice
Here are some of the most remarkable health benefits of licorice:
- Boosts cardiovascular health. The antioxidant properties of licorice extract are essential in preventing cardiovascular stress in those who are diabetic. The glabridin flavonoid in its root is beneficial in providing vascular protection even in high glucose conditions.
- Helps treat neurological disorders. The licorice is essential in treating neurological conditions like Lyme disease and Bell’s palsy. Furthermore, it also helps prevent the involuntary flow of tears as well as the development of other neurological symptoms, like paralysis in patients who suffer from Bell’s palsy.
- Aids in dental health. Licorice extract is essential in the treatment and prevention of gingivitis and dental caries. Furthermore, its antimicrobial properties prevent the formation of plaque.
- Helps boost the immune system. Licorice helps prevent the malfunction of various adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing hormones like cortisol, which helps manage stress and promote overall bodily functions.
- Helps prevent cancer. Licorice has chemopreventive effects, which help treat various kinds of cancer. Studies show that licorice root is essential is restricting the growth of breast cancer cells.
- Helps treat stomach issues. The glycyrrhizic acid in licorice is essential in protecting against the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, and it can offer therapeutic effects for treating impaired digestion and dyspepsia.
Culinary Use of Licorice
Licorice is used as a flavouring agent in various confectionary products, like candy and chewy sweets. It is also widely used in the tobacco industry to manufacture smoking mixtures, cigarettes and cigars, as well as for moisture-control and flavour enhancing. Finally, licorice is used in beverages like beer as a foaming agent.