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Licorice Extract May Protect The Gut And Reduce Inflammation

Posted on 20 August 2020

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Licorice is a plant native to southern Europe and western Asia. Licorice extracts have been used in traditional medicine for a variety of digestive and health problems.

Why Might Licorice Extract Be Beneficial?

One of the most important components of licorice is glycyrrhizin, a form of glycyrrhetic acid that is well absorbed and relatively abundant in licorice extract. Glycyrrhetic acid may inhibit harmful microorganisms. For example, it has been shown to protect against peptic ulcer, a consequence of H.pylori infection.

Licorice also contains flavonoids, antioxidant molecules that may protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which play an important role in the ageing process. Consequently, licorice extract may protect against age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer.

While licorice seems to have multiple benefits, it also has drawbacks. Most significantly, it may increase blood pressure (secondary to an increase in cortisol) and lower testosterone. This is related to glycyrrhizin, but supplements containing less than 150mg of glycyrrhizin don’t appear to have these effects.

What Is The Evidence Behind Licorice Extract Supplementation?

Licorice Root Side Effects: 7 Ways It May Harm Your Health

Licorice has been found to have inhibitory properties against viruses and bacteria, and can protect mice against severe fungal infections. It was also effective in boosting gut defences against infection and treating gastric ulcers in mice, with similar benefits to the anti-ulcer drug cimetidine.

In terms of licorice’s benefits as an anti-oxidant, this study suggests that licorice extract may be able reduce low density lipoproteins (LDL) oxidation by 20% or more, which would outperform most other supplements. As the oxidation of LDL is a vital step in the development of atherosclerosis, licorice root may be protective in this regard. In line with this, evidence suggests that licorice extract can slow the development of atherosclerosis in those with high cholesterol.

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    References Licorice:

    Antiulcer properties of Glycyrrhiza glabra L. extract on experimental models of gastric ulcer in mice:

    Antioxidant effect of polyphenolic glabridin on LDL oxidation: DOI: 10.1177/0748233709103034

    Metabolic changes after licorice consumption: A systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis of clinical trials: doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.12.010.

    In vitro antiviral activity of indigenous glycyrrhizin, licorice and glycyrrhizic acid (Sigma) on Japanese encephalitis virus:

    In vitro antibacterial effects of glycyrrhetinic acid on periodontopathogenic and capnophilic bacteria isolated from adult periodontitis: DOI:

    Antiatherosclerotic effects of licorice extract supplementation on hypercholesterolemic patients: decreased CIMT, reduced plasma lipid levels, and decreased blood pressure: doi: 10.3402/fnr.v60.30830

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