Glycyrrhizin is one of the active constituents of licorice. It possesses antidepressant effects, and heals mucous membranes of the digestive tract.
Most of us know of the sweet taste of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra
) root. Used for many years to flavor the candy of the same name, licorice has since been replaced by anise and other flavorings in this popular treat.
Retailers sell licorice as a candy or in powders, capsules, lozenges, concentrated drops, tinctures and extracts. Chewable tablets and other licorice products for extended anti-ulcer therapy now often contain very little (just 2% or less) of the active component glycyrrhizin (also known as glycyrrhizic acid). These deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) products cause fewer side-effects and are much safer for long-term use than glycyrrhizin-containing licorice. An average dose of DGL licorice is 200mg.
Function; Why it is Recommended
The herb's natural sweetness and flavor – it is 50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) – are due to its high content of glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin is also responsible for most of licorice's medicinal properties, including its ability to reduce inflammation
, soothe throat tissues and reduce allergy symptoms. The ulcer-healing compounds in licorice are thought to be flavonoids
. They apparently work by promoting the overall health of the gastrointestinal
system rather than reducing the secretion of stomach acid that triggers ulcers
. Additional compounds with therapeutic effects include sterols
Because of its sweetness, licorice is still often used as a masking agent for various vitamin/mineral mixes as well as a sweetener and flavoring for teas, tinctures and other supplement products. Glycyrrizin has a similar structure to adrenal steroids
and has been used successfully in treating adrenal insufficiency
, various skin problems, as well as female hormonal regulation.
Deglycyrrizinated licorice (DGL) is an excellent treatment for peptic and gastric ulcers
and has no hypertensive side-effects. Licorice root and licorice root extracts are used in many types of supplemental formulas such as: female hormonal products, energy products, lung
/demulcent products, and adrenal
support products. It may also be found as a flavoring or sweetener in a variety of powders and tablets.
Because glycyrrhizin can cause high blood pressure and other problems, it should only be taken on the advice of a health care practitioner.Warning:
Do not use licorice on a daily basis for more than five days at a time, as it can elevate blood pressure. Do not use licorice at all if you have high blood pressure.
Side-Effects; Counter-Indicators and Warnings
Taking high or repeated doses of licorice extracts containing glycyrrhizin may cause adverse health effects related to salt and water retention (including elevated blood pressure), which goes away when licorice is stopped
People with kidney
or heart problems or a history of high blood pressure should avoid regular use of glycyrrhizin-containing licorice products.