Licorice root has been used traditionally to manage many different ailments.
Nowadays, when most things with therapeutic benefits have to be assessed through the lens of scientific research and clinical studies, we can comfortably say that licorice root is a true rival to other more mainstream remedies.
While it may not be safe for everyone, just like any other plant, it should be taken with caution.
With that said, let’s look at how to use licorice root.
What Is Licorice Root Good For?
According to a 2015 study, licorice has more than 300 compounds with various properties.
But more specifically, it is their antiviral and their antimicrobial properties that have been studied extensively.
Some of the areas where licorice root excels include the following:
Managing gastric ulcers and stomach discomfort
The single most common cause of ulcers, especially in developing countries, is the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. This 2012 study showed that licorice extracts can kill H. pylori to prevent and/or treat ulcers.
Another study published in the Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases evaluated adding licorice to the standard treatment regimen of infection by Helicobacter pylori.
It concluded that licorice extract significantly improved gastric symptoms and hastened the recovery process.
Licorice root also contains flavonoids such as glabridin and glabrene, which according to a study, significantly relieve stomach discomfort such as nausea, heartburn, and stomach pain.
Preventing tooth decay
Tooth decay is usually a consequence of bacterial overgrowth in the mouth. Some studies show that licorice helps kill these bacteria.
However, this benefit has only been explored in a laboratory setting. Real-life practical results remain anecdotal. Nonetheless, its ability to inhibit bacteria growth in the oral cavity is promising.
Managing sore throat
Many people keep licorice on hand as their go-to remedy for sore throats. One study showed that gargling a licorice solution for up to 15 minutes can effectively prevent sore throat among patients who had a breathing tube.
And this effect is similar to that of a ketamine gargle when used for the same purpose.
Licorice Root Benefits For Skin
One of the most common skin issues characterized by painful inflammation is eczema.
Quite often, skin conditions such as these are worsened by a superimposed bacterial infection.
One study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research showed that licorice extract has potent antimicrobial effects in skin infections.
Licorice has also proven useful in other inflammatory skin conditions like folliculitis, impetigo, and cellulitis.
The reason why licorice extract successfully manages skin conditions is that it is active against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus - the primary cause of infection in such cases.
Additionally, licorice root is a common herbal remedy for dark spots and/or brown spots. Dark spots are areas of hyperpigmentation that occur due to excessive production of melanin – the skin's pigment.
Several factors can contribute to dark spots. The most common being overexposure to sunlight and the use of certain medications.
Licorice root has skin brightening properties thanks to the effect of one of its flavonoids – glabridin.
The function of glabridin, in this case, is to inhibit excessive production of melanin and thereby reduce hyperpigmentation.
How To Use Licorice Root For Skin
When using licorice root for skin conditions, it’s either an extract or a mask that’s typically used.
This is by far the most popular form because it’s relatively easy to make and store. All you have to do is add a few drops of licorice extract to a cotton swab or cotton ball and rub a thin layer over affected skin twice a day – preferably in the morning and at night.
You can also use licorice extract just to maintain skin tone and protect from sunlight damage.
A licorice mask is made using licorice extract blended with additional ingredients such as squeezed lemon, tomato juice, sandalwood paste, and cucumber.
Simply apply the mix directly to your face, then leave it to dry. After about 20 minutes, rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
Always be sure to moisturize and keep your skin hydrated after applying licorice.
Skin hydration is essential and is best achieved by drinking sufficient amounts of water.
Benefits Of Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root tea has many proposed health benefits. Let’s discuss a few below.
1. It can ease digestive complaints
As mentioned previously, licorice is commonly used to relieve digestive discomfort and treat gastric ulcers through its antibacterial effects. It’s also useful in coating the digestive tract's lining to prevent damage by excessive production of stomach acids.
Besides gastric ulcers, licorice root tea is also helpful in treating oral ulcers and mouth sores.
2. It can help post-menopausal women
Studies have shown that licorice root tea exhibits potent estrogen-like effects in women. As a result, some hypothesize that it can work as an alternative to estrogen replacement therapy in women who have reached menopause.
3. Licorice tea is good for your upper respiratory tract
As previously mentioned, one of the go-to uses of licorice is to ease a sore throat. Licorice tea is soothing and tasty and is often effective for people with a scratchy throat.
How To Make Licorice Tea
Making licorice root tea is pretty easy. You'll need:
- Dried licorice root
- Collecting jar
First, boil 4 to 8 ounces of water. The amount of water you boil depends on the amount of tea you want to make.
Add one teaspoon of dried licorice root to the boiling water. The ratio for this is one teaspoon of dried licorice root for every four ounces of water.
For step three, remove the mixture from the heat and let it steep for about 5 minutes.
The final step is to pour it through a fine-mesh kitchen strainer into a container, discarding the remaining herb.
Other Ways To Take Licorice
Besides using a licorice mask or extract, there are other ways to enjoy its benefits.
For instance, you can mix it with skin-friendly gels such as aloe vera and use however you would plain aloe.
You can also add licorice extract into a beverage.
When treating oral ulcers and mouth sores, you can use liquid licorice extract under the tongue. This is called taking it sublingually.
Can You Chew Licorice Root?
Yes, you can!
There are chewable licorice root tablets and capsules available online and in stores. You can also chew dried licorice roots directly.
For this purpose, they are known as chew sticks and are the best for maintaining a healthy set of teeth. Some people even consider chew sticks as alternatives to brushing your teeth.
Potential Licorice Root Side Effects
As with any herb, you should consult with your primary caregiver before taking.
Some of the side effects reported with licorice include:
- Water retention
- Loss of potassium
- High blood pressure
Licorice root is an essential herb with several beneficial effects when used correctly.