Licorice is one of the most important medicinal herbs, with many varying actions that affect many different systems in the body. The root contains the triterpenoid saponin glycyrrhizin that is responsible for its sweet taste and many of its medicinal effects.
Licorice is useful for treating heartburn and ulcers because it functions as a demulcent to protect the mucous membranes from acid. Unlike most demulcents, it does not contain mucilage that acts as a protective barrier, rather the glycyrrhizin stimulates mucous production. In the respiratory tract, it increases the hydration of the existing mucous, making it a good expectorant to aid in the expulsion of phlegm.
Glycyrrhizin demonstrates strong antiviral activity against several types of viruses, including various respiratory viruses (e.g. Influenza A, SARS, H1N1), as well as herpes (HSV) and hepatitis.
Licorice is often referred to as an adrenal tonic. It differs from adaptogens because rather than modulate stress hormones, glycyrrhizin inhibits the breakdown of cortisol to cortisone. This can help restore some adrenal function in severely depleted individuals and prevent further exhaustion.
Licorice has some phytoestrogenic properties and is used in TCM formulas for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hisutism (i.e. excess hair growith in women).
Caution: excess and prolong use of licorice causes "pseudo-aldosteronism" - the excretion of sodium and water is impaired, leading to hypertension as well as potassium loss.
Disclaimer: This content is subject to change. The information is intended to inform and educate; it does not replace the medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. www.nhpassist.com © 2014 NDAssist Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.