The Surprising Health Benefits of Licorice

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On Monday, we celebrated National Licorice Day! Before you all go run out to Costco and buy those economy size tubs of Red Vines… pump the brakes!! It turns out black licorice is actually the way to go!

Everyone from the Greeks, to Chinese Emperor’s to Egypt’s King Tutankhamen himself seemed to know the healing properties of black licorice. For hundreds of years it’s been used as a medicinal alternative. Licorice in fact is a powerfal antiviral, has many antioxidants and even estrogen. Yes ladies… estrogen.

Some of the health benefits are:

  • PMS: Got PMS?  I know my ears perked up when I saw this one… Listen up ladies! Treat PMS and menstrual problems with it! Licorice has a mild estrogenic effect. A high estrogen level can cause many menstrual problems; licorice may help to balance the estrogen levels in the body by reducing estrogen, aiding in irritability, bloating and overall tenderness.
  • Peptic Ulcers: Got an ulcer? Or even an upset tummy? Well licorice has been used in Europe as medicinal support for people suffering from ulcers. It lowers acidic levels and relieves heartburn. Scientific studies have also shown that licorice is very effective as a pharmaceutical drug. A special form of licorice known as DGL is the preferred treatment for ulcers; this form removes the glycyrrhizin from the licorice as this can cause high blood pressure. DGL has no side effects and is the inexpensive option when compared with drugs such as Tagomet and Zantac.
  • Respiratory System: Is that cough driving you nuts? It has always been common practice to use licorice in the treatment of severe respiratory problems such as coughing, asthma, sore throats, and bronchitis and modern research confirms these health benefits of licorice. Giving you that much needed boost in immunity levels.
  • Cholesterol: I happen to suffer from high cholesterol so this one has extra importance to me too! A study on 20 students showed that licorice makes LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol more resistant to oxidation.

As with all good things there are also some precautions about using black licorice medicinally… Your first question should be how much should I consume?  Many experts recommend that licorice should not be used for the long term and no more than 50 grams of real licorice should be consumed daily.  It can raise blood pressure and cause sodium and water retention.   It also is not advised to consume licorice during pregnancy.  It has been known to be associated with premature birth.

Always try to find licorice that contains REAL licorice.  Most are enhanced with sugars, sweeteners and added artificial flavors… look for the real deal.  One of the key ingredients to look for is “glycyrrhizin”  (Well I’m not asking you to say it! Just look for it! LOL) or Licorice Root.  You might even be able to find it in a tea.

That being said though, licorice does have the power to heal and there are many many health benefits associated with it!

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