Licorice root can also help people with chronic fatigue syndrome, most of whom have abnormally low blood pressure due to adrenal gland insufficiency. Licorice enables the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormone cortisol, which enables the kidneys to retain more sodium and water, thereby regulating blood pressure.
An ingredient in licorice root known as glycyrrhizin is thought to counteract free radical production that causes inflammation and pain in people with inflammatory conditions like lupus.
The herb is also useful for relieving dry cough and inflammation in people with asthma. Further, licorice root protects the body from a number of toxins, including aflatoxin, some types of arsenic, nicotine and toxins in cancer drugs.
The anti-inflammatory properties of licorice root also make it useful in treating a range of gastrointestinal and digestive disorders, including Crohn’s disease, ulcers and celiac disease.
It protects the gastrointestinal tract from being damaged by stomach acid by increasing the stomach’s ability to produce protective mucus rather than by eliminating the acid itself, which is necessary for proper digestion.
Another property of licorice root is its ability to help the body conserve naturally produced steroids. This makes it beneficial in treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis as well as canker sores and rash.
There are two forms of licorice root available as supplements. These are standard licorice root and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Each is beneficial for specific and distinct purposes. Glycyrrhizin is the ingredient with adrenal-boosting and infection-fighting properties, so standard licorice root should be used to treat conditions like chronic fatigue. DGL is more easily tolerated and is best for treating gastrointestinal problems.
Licorice Side Effects
Licorice root does have side effects for many people. While some people can tolerate 5 or 6 gram doses of standard licorice per day, high amounts should not be used for more than two or three weeks without medical supervision. The recommended effective dose of deglycyrrhizinated licorice is lower, at one 300-milligram tablet taken three times per day before meals—you can purchase the NOW brand licorice online at one of our recommended online retailers, BodyBuilding.com.
Since licorice can raise blood pressure, people with high blood pressure should not use it. Also, those with a history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, glaucoma, or kidney disease should avoid high doses of licorice root because it can cause fluid retention and potassium loss.
Further, licorice root promotes conversion of the hormone testosterone into estrogen, so people with estrogen-sensitive conditions, including fibrocystic breasts, breast cancer or uterine cancer should not use licorice root.
Men with erectile dysfunction should also avoid it since it can cause a decrease in testosterone levels, which could exacerbate that condition. In addition, people taking corticosteroids, diuretics or calcium supplements for osteoporosis should not use licorice root. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should take this herb with caution.