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Licorice: An Overview

Put down the candy, because it’s time to talk about the real licorice, why it’s one of nature’s most exquisite remedies and why we've included it in 4 of our tea blends - Herbal Coffee, Tummy Tonic, Anxiety Release and Hormone Balance.

Even though our thoughts turn to the red, twisty treat, the word licorice is actually a reference to Glycyrrhiza glabra, a root herb found in Europe and Asia. Early uses of licorice root can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians along with Traditional Chinese Medicine. [1]
There are two different kinds of licorice: regular licorice, and Deglycerrhizinated Licorice. Glycyrrhizin is one of the roots active compounds, containing a number of properties including the ability to significantly raise blood pressure. The compound can also increase the risk of hypokalemia, which is when potassium levels become dangerously low. [2] Regular licorice contains glycyrrhizin, whereas Deglycerrhizinated licorice, referred to as DGL, does not. If the side effects of glycyrrhizin are a concern for you, check the labels prior to supplementing with or ingesting licorice root and opt for DGL. You can find DGL in wafer, capsule, liquid, tablet, tea or lozenge form. By removing the glycyrrhizin, one can still reap the benefits of regular licorice without running the risk of its side effects.



In a 2017 analysis over the benefits of licorice root, up to 93 papers were shown to positively report the anti-inflammatory effects of licorice root. [3] Pro-inflammatory disease and conditions can all be mitigated through the use of licorice root, whether it is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or eczema. [4] [5] One of the ways licorice lowers inflammation is by promoting the induction and function regulatory T cells, helping to protect against autoimmunity and other inflammatory-related disorders (although it should be noted that so far these effects have only been shown in mice). [6]


Gut Health

Put this herb on the VIP list for gut health! Licorice root is excellent for soothing IBS, ulcers, food poisoning, indigestion, reflux and heartburn. It’s also very beneficial for the healing of the intestinal lining, making it a superstar remedy for intestinal permeability (otherwise known as leaky gut). [7] Licorice’s aforementioned effects on reflux and heartburn have also been featured in multiple studies, including a notable publication in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In it, licorice extract was revealed to exhibit “significant decrease in symptom scores in concordance with improvements in almost all individual symptoms and found to be superior to placebo group in the management of functional dyspepsia.” [8] As further proof of its effects towards gut health, another study found that licorice had suppressed the growth of H. Pylori in the gut; the symptoms of which include peptic ulcers, heartburn, and gastritis. [9]


Adrenal Fatigue

Our adrenal glands often take a hit from the hustle and stress of modern day living. One of the ways we can help to reduce the damaging effects of stress is by nourishing our adrenals with herbs like licorice. It helps to promote healthy cortisol levels, thereby improving our body’s response to stress. [10] This is why licorice is oftentimes referred to as an adaptogen- it helps us to adapt, and not react, to stress.


Respiratory Health

When cold and flu season comes around, remember to keep licorice at hand. It’s oftentimes been used as an herbal remedy for respiratory-related issues, including sore throat and irritable coughing. It’s soothing, demulcent characters may also help lower inflammation, therefore a lozenge or tea containing it may be in order! Licorice also helps the body to produce healthy mucus, which helps the respiratory system to function without being clogged by old “sticky” mucus. [11]



Did you know that licorice is also beneficial for your teeth? Believe it or not, many herbal formulations and remedies employ the use of licorice root for preventing tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and killing pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. Licorice is also a natural breath freshener, with the actual root being chewed or “gnawed” on to help improve breath! [12] [13]



Before consuming licorice extract, it’s important to remember the difference between its regular and DGL forms. If the risk of elevated blood pressure concerns you, it would be wise to stick to DGL. Regular licorice root may also cause swelling or edema and chronic fatigue. You should stop taking licorice two weeks prior to surgery, as it can interfere with blood pressure control during operation. Regular licorice root should not be taken for more than 1-3 consecutive months, whereas DGL is generally recognized as safe for the long term. If you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue, it may help to work with a qualified practitioner prior to jumping onto licorice root, since many people do not respond to it as positively as others. [14]



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