Licorice is one of those flavors that you either love or you just hate. The anise-like flavor that is associated with black licorice candies comes from the root of the licorice plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra, and is a potent, if divisive, herbal extract used in many food products, medicine, and even cigarettes. Medicine AND cigarettes? You bet. Licorice is beloved around the world - but especially in Europe - for its unique aroma and flavor, but there are other qualities that find the root being used beyond simple confections. Cigarettes are adulterated with licorice to increase the sweetness of the tobacco, and the same chemical component that makes licorice taste sweet is also one of the components that makes it such a powerful medical plant.
Glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar, is also a potent antiviral compound. Research has been conducted which shows powerful effects on some major viruses, such as herpes, HIV, and even influenza. It's also used to treat patients with hepatitis C, especially to prevent the liver cancer that often affects these patients. What a plant! But besides these more extreme situations, licorice is also quite helpful in treating a variety of more common conditions and ailments.
1. Licorice is a root, but sure is a sweet one!
2. Got stomach problems? Try licorice.
The first stop for licorice is the stomach, and this root has potent anti-inflammatory properties and can easily calm an upset stomach.
3. Joint pain can be tamed with a little licorice.
The anti-inflammatory qualities don't stick around in the stomach, quickly moving into the rest of the body to do their work. Try licorice if you've got arthritis or a stiff back.
4. Skin can always benefit from a little licorice.
The potent compounds in licorice are known to aid in the treatment of eczema and many other skin conditions.
5. Hair health concerns? Licorice.
We've heard but don't have much evidence to back it up that licorice extract applied to the scalp can help prevent hair loss and improve hair's overall health.
6. Clear those lungs with licorice.
Licorice can not only help lung congestion from winter illnesses, it even helps out those afflicted with asthma.
7. Sore throat? Send in the licorice!
There's a reason licorice is included in so many cough medicines and throat lozenges. It goes into beast mode when it sees a sore throat.
8. Intestinal health.
Candy that's good for the digestive system? Licorice is some kind of wizard, right?
9. Women's health.
Not only can licorice tea comfort women during menstruation, it's also effective in treating and preventing painful ovarian cysts.
10. Men's health.
New research suggests that licorice could help both treat and prevent prostate cancer.
Be cautious when using this tasty plant to treat disease, however. In candy, it's not much concern, but at medicinal levels, licorice can cause a number of potentially dangerous health concerns such as muscle weakness and hypertension. The advice provided here is meant to be a natural alternative, but you should always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your health regimen. If you find yourself feeling weak or dizzy after consuming licorice tea or other preparations, please see a doctor right away!
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