Since the dawn of human, plant has been source of medication. Even nowadays, people try to utilize the function of plants because they have many health effects. One of the plant is licorice. Licorice or also known as sweet wood is a perennial plant which has been used in traditional medication since long ago. Licorice is native plant on Mediterranean country and Asia. In India, licorice has been used in Ayurveda medication since 4000 years ago. The roots of licorice usually dried to be used as medicine. Licorice or the root Glycyrrhiza glabra (GG) plant is well known since thousand years ago in Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, Iraqi and Indian culture as food and medicinal remedy.
Phytochemical Content of Licorice
- amino acids
- essential oil
- female hormone estrogen
- glycyrheticic acid
- glycyrrhizin (main constituent found in the root)
- mucilage (rhizome)
- starches (30%)
- sugars (up to 14%) when mixed with water or used in cough drops,
- volatile oil
- yellow coloring matter
Benefits of Licorice
Licorice tea provide many health benefits. Below are the list of health benefits of licorice tea
1. Healing ulcers
It is one of best benefits of licorice tea. Licorice contains glycyrrhizinic acid which is the major components among other phytochemicals in licorice. Glycyrrhizinic acid has anti ulcer effect. It is can increase the level of prostaglandins which promote mucous secretion and cell proliferation in the stomach. Glycyrrhizinic acid also has anti bacterial activity which can supress the growth of Helicobacter pylori. H pylory is one of bacteria which can cause ulcer.
2. Boost immune system
Licorice also has antiviral properties and it boost the level of interferon, a protein which use to fight virus infection. Licorice tea also contain antioxidant which can help the function of immune system in fight free radical and other bacterial infection which is harmful for your body. Consuming licorice tea regularly will strengthen your immune system and help you to combat the disease.
3. Cure respiratory problem
Licorice tea found to be effective in treating the respiratory problem such as bronchial catarrh, sore throat and even asthma . The phytochemical contained in licorice decreased irritation in throat and produce expectorant effect. This benefits you can undergo when you feel having problem with respiratory problem.
4. Relieve pain, stress and depression
Licorice tea contain phytochemical which has same effect with pain killer such as aspirin. Licorice tea also can enhance the brain and cortisol activity and help to reduce stress. Having licorice tea after work can help you to calm your mind and relax your muscle.
5. Fight inflammation
Licorice contain anti-inflammatory properties which can help the body to fight inflammation and reduce the symptom such as in people who suffer arthritis. Scientific study found that that glycyrrhetinic acid in licorice extract has anti-inflammatory effect which inhibit the cyclooxygenase activity and prostaglandin formation (protein which trigger inflammation)
6. Cure hepatitis
The anti-viral and anti-inflammation properties of licorice can help to maintain healthy liver. As we know that liver is an organ in human body which important in body detoxification, the pthyochemical component in licorice both protects liver and heal liver if damage occur. Damage liver will be easily infected by Hepatitis virus. Consuming licorice tea can help to cure the inflammation of liver which caused by hepatitis virus.
7. Treat PMS
PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome is annoying for women in period. The phytoestrogen contained in licorice also has mild estrogen effect which can ease the PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness, irritability and bloating.
8. Promote hair growth
Licorice contain hydro-alcoholic which can promotes hair growth. Many hair product use licorice extract as medicine to cure baldness. Consuming licorice tea also has almost same effect with using licorice extract as medicine.
9. Prevent cold and flu
As mentioned before that licorice contain many benefits to fight bacteria and viral infection. Cold and flu is one of health problem which cause by influenza virus. The antiviral properties of licorice tea can get rid the body from influenza virus and reduce the symptoms of cold.
10. Prevent cancer
Licorice has also been shown to have an anti-cancer activity. The glabiridin in licorice acts as antioxidant which can prevent the cell damage that caused by free radicals. The phenolic component of licorice is also responsible to prevent metal ion chelating and hydrogen donating than induced DNA damage. The effect of antioxidant of flavonoids in licorice is very strong and it can be 100 times stronger than the antioxidant activity of Vitamin E
11. Control blood sugar
Licorice tea extract can help the body to lower the blood sugar. Recent study found that the flavonoid content of licorice such as glabridin and amorfrutin have blood-glucose-lowering effect according to a study which published in Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin.
12. Cure Malaria
Licochalcone A (a chalcone) present in licorice has reported showing very good antimalarial activity. This component can inhibit the growth of plasmodium which is causing malaria.
13. Treat cough
A study has been conducted to to evaluate the anti-tussive activity of licorice extract in mice. Later researchers found that the glycyrrthenic acid present in licorice is the substance who acts as anti-tussive properties. When you suffering cough, drinking licorice tea can help you to cure. Ethanolic compound found in licorice also responsible for inhibition of SO2 gas which can induced cough
14. Prevent tooth decay
Antibacterial activity of licorice tea help to remove bacteria inside mouth which can cause tooth decay. A study was conducted to find the anti bacterial activity of licorice tea. Study reported that licorice tea extract has significant antibacterial effect against some pathogen bacteria including oral bacteria.
15. Lower cholesterol
A study which publish in International journal of herbal medicine reported that the Ethanolic
ethyl acetate properties contained in licorice can decreased the cholesterol level in blood. Even licorice tea is not as well known as green tea, it has almost same benefits to protect the blood vessel from bad cholesterol.
16. Prevent food toxicity
Glycyrrhiza glabra contain glabridin which has antifungal activity. This component can help to cure toxicity which is caused by several bacteria contamination such as in botulism case.
17. Relieve allergy
Licorice tea contain components called glycirrizin and liquiritigenin which have anti-allergic effect. These components can relieve IgE or Immunoglobulin E (protein which promotes allergic sympton ). This make licorice is one of home remedy to treat allergic symptom such as dermatitis and asthma.
18. Prevent heart disease
Licorice can lower the cholesterol level in blood which prevent the blood vessel thickening. Cholesterol can cause the damage of blood artery and promotes artery-clogging plaque formation which later can cause high blood pressure and heart disease. It is suggested to consume 100mg of licorice tea powder to provide this effect.
19. Enhance memory
A study has been reported that licorice has effect in modulating learning process and memory which investigated in mice. Scientist also hypothesize that licorice has significant effect in improving brain activity. Consuming 150mg dose of licorice tea per day can serve this benefits.
20. Brighten the skin
A study published in International Journal of Herbal Medicine the extract of licorice can decrease the skin melanin production which cause pigmentation. Licorice has been used in beauty treatment for long time. Consuming licorice tea regularly not only can brighten the skin but also protect the skin from the effect of UV light and acts as antioxidant to keep the skin young.
Side effect of licorice tea
- It is reported that excessive consumption of licorice can alleviate blood pressure due to the effect of licorice to the renin‐angiotensin‐aldosterone system.
- Consuming licorice may also promote hypokalemia or potassium loss and sodium retention from the body. It can cause body weakness and nerve problem even edema.
- The symptom of toxicity of licorice is vary from one person to another. The range of consumption is about 1.5 g to 250 gr daily.
How to make licorice tea
Its easy to make licorice tea since we can find the licorice powder in store nowadays and many product also has contain licorice. Just brew one or two small stick of licorice in a cup and let it for some minutes.. You can also make licorice tea from dried licorice powder. Just mix one teaspoon of licorice powder with a cup of warm water and let it for some minutes. Drink licorice tea when its warm and enjoy the benefits.