Today we will take a closer look at licorice and its health benefits. The medicinal use of this plant can be traced back to many ancient civilizations, but only recently have we realized its full potential.
Licorice or Glycyrrhiza glabra was elected medicinal plant of the year in 2012, by the University of Wurburg, Germany. The announcement was made at an event organized by the German WWF.
This woody plant can grow up to a meter and a half tall. It is cultivated for its miraculous medicinal properties, but is also used in drinks and to make chew sticks by drying and processing the finest roots
From the other roots a bittersweet juice can be extracted, which contains 10 to 20% glycyrrhizin, a natural sweetener with a sweetness up to 100 times higher than that of sucrose. It is mainly this substance which gives licorice its many healing properties.
Health benefits of licorice
Let’s discover some of the beneficial actions of this wonderful plant:
- Licorice has an anti-inflammatory action, guaranteed by the presence of flavonoids, which is why it helps fight coughs and sore throats.
- It has a satiating effect, ideal for those who follow specific diets and try not to over eat.
- Licorice has an antiviral effect because it contains glycyrrhizin which is able to fight infection.
- It has a softening effect and it is also expectorant, making it an effective remedy against asthma and dry cough.
- Licorice is also known for its laxative action, determined by the presence of mannitol, a sugar alcohol that can counteract constipation by drawing water into the bowel and facilitating the emptying of the colon.
- This herb is also a natural antioxidant, due to the presence of flavonoids that fight free radicals and provide protection against cardiovascular diseases
But the benefits of licorice do not stop there: it can be used to make infusions and in confectionaries; it is used to treat nicotine withdrawal, and finally, it can make a very refreshing drink.
However, let’s remember that licorice also has some negative properties, since it contains glycyrrhetic acid; it is absolutely not recommended for people with hypertension, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Well, what can we say, if we only knew this when we were children!