People used licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) medicinally 4,500 years ago in ancient Egypt and Syria. Today, it’s recognized as one of the most researched herbal remedies, and studies have confirmed many of its traditional benefits.
Two types of licorice root supplements are sold, and it’s crucial to understand the difference between them. One type is essentially a whole licorice root extract that contains glycyrrhetinic (pronounced gli-sir-eh-tin’-ic) acid, which is helpful in resolving adrenal exhaustion, but may cause hypertension if overused. The other type is deglycyrrhinated—commonly known as DGL licorice—in which the glycyrrhetinic acid has been removed.
Medicinally, glycyrrhetinic acid blocks the body’s breakdown of cortisol, which has potential health benefits and risks. Glycyrrhetinic acid can boost adrenal gland function, which enhances our stress resistance. However, consuming too much glycyrrhetinic acid can mimic the body’s over-production of the hormone aldesterone, leading to high blood pressure, sodium and water retention, and potassium depletion. Whether you take DGL licorice or whole extract, and how much, depends on your condition and desired outcome.
1. More Energy
Chronic stress increases levels of the stress-buffering hormone cortisol. Adrenal exhaustion develops when the body can no longer sustain high cortisol production. Fatigue typically follows, and many people become dependent on caffeine. Licorice root (containing glycyrrhetinic acid) blocks the body’s breakdown of cortisol, enabling a restoration of normal levels of the hormone. Note: People with adrenal exhaustion typically have low cortisol levels in the morning and high levels in the evening, providing a late-night “second wind.” Take licorice root supplements with breakfast and lunch, not in the evening, to help restore a normal cortisol pattern.
2. Heartburn Help
Licorice is considered a demulcent—that is, an herb that provides a soothing coating to the upper digestive tract. DGL licorice supplements may lead to improvements in heartburn, gastric reflux, and gastric and duodenal ulcers.
3. Less Inflammation
Licorice has broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory properties—important because every disease process involves inflammation, including heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, some evidence indicates that licorice root may help in reducing blood sugar and insulin resistance, the hallmarks of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Although these studies used pure glycyrrhetinic acid, it may be better to use DGL licorice root to avoid an increase in high blood pressure.
Cell studies have documented that licorice root reduces the activity of many different proinflammatory compounds, including cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, and prostaglandin E2. In Japan, a product containing glycyrrhetinic has been used by doctors for 60 years to treat allergies and hepatitis. The German government has long licensed licorice root as a medicinal tea for the treatment of bronchitis and gastritis.
If you suffer from adrenal exhaustion, opt for a “whole” licorice root supplement or tincture containing glycyrrhetinic acid. Before taking licorice for adrenal exhaustion, make sure you have a correct diagnosis. Some of the key symptoms include fatigue, low blood pressure, and dizziness when standing up.
For all other needs, use a DGL licorice supplement. Follow label directions because product potencies may vary. Glycyrrhetinic acid (also known as glycyrrhizin) is 50 times sweeter than sugar—hence, its use in candies. However, licorice candies typically contain large amounts of sugar and should not be used medicinally. In fact, many candies use similar tasting herbs, such as anise or fennel, to mimic the taste of licorice.
aw good buys
Alvita Licorice Root Tea. Glycyrrhizic acid found in licorice root gives this tea a naturally sweet taste. Pillow-style tea bags are oxygen bleached, not chlorine treated, and are dioxin free.
The Vitamin Shoppe Licorice Root. Each capsule delivers 450 mg of pure licorice root (Glycyrrhiza Glabra), free of allergens including yeast, corn, soy, sugar, or artificial flavors or colors.
Nature’s Answer Licorice Root Extract is holistically balanced to provide the same synergistic ratios of beneficial compounds as found in nature, and is absorbed quickly by the body.