The licorice plant is a legume that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. Glycyrrhizin, one of the important components in licorice root, is 50 times sweeter than sugar and gives licorice its special taste. Also, licorice root components contain aglycone glycyrrhizic acid, polysaccharides, different polyphenols, coumarin derivatives and steroids. Licorice supplement are generally standardized to their content of glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin is the active agent in licorice root that combats illnesses suchlike as upper respiratory infections, and is said to lessen the symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)
When taken in high amounts licorice (glycyrrhizin) produces effects parallel to those of the hormone aldosterone, causing fluid retention, increased blood pressure, and loss of potassium. To avoid this, firms have found a way to remove glycyrrhizin from licorice, producing the safer product DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). In more amounts, licorice root containing glycyrrhizin, has been shown to cause high blood pressure and side effects linked to heart problems.
Licorice root covers compounds that act as a soothing or coating agent that soothes the lining of the throat to decrease soreness and irritation. Due to the adverse reaction profile of licorice, many studies have been performed using the deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) extract that is free of glycyrrhizin. As DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) has been shown to reduce the gastric bleeding caused by aspirin, DGL is strongly indicated for the avoiding of gastric ulcers in individuals requiring long-term therapy with ulcer-causing medicines, such as aspirin, other NSAIDs, and corticosteroids. There is a German E Commission (an official government agency similar to the FDA) Monograph for licorice that lists it use as beneficial for common cold of the upper respiratory and for gastric ulcers.
In one study, participants who took a combination of licorice, silymarin (milk thistle), and different other herbs had improved measures of liver enzymes and tests of liver function. To treat hepatitis clinical trials in Japan have used a licorice root extract (glycyrrhizin) to treat hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and have showed that glycyrrhizin reduces liver illness. Glycyrrhizin has been used in Japan for a long while as a therapy for chronic hepatitis disease.A glycyrrhizin containing preparation (Stronger Neo-Minophagen C), consisting of 0.2 % glycyrrhizin, 0.1 % cysteine and 2.0 % glycine in physiological saline solution, is used intravenously in Japan for the therapy of hepatitis. Shown to be efficient in preventing the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic hepatitis C individuals. In two clinical trials, Stronger Neo-Minophagen C has been shown to significantly lower alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) concentrations, while simultaneously ameliorating histologic evidence of necrosis and inflammatory lesions in the liver.
Recent researches have provided new findings of licorice antiinflammatory effects. A study reported in the December 1998 edition of “Pigment Cell Research” showed that licorice (glabridin), exert anti-inflammatory property owing to suppression of superoxide anion production and inhibition of cyclooxygenase. A study, published in the June 11, 2008 issue of “Pharmacological Research“, scientists evaluated the anti-inflammatory effects of glycyrrhizin extract in a mice model of acute inflammation caused by induced lung damage resulting in pleurisy characterized by fluid accumulation. Powerful anti-inflammatory activities were seen and measured parameters of the damage were prominent reduced. Experts concluded that the mechanism of prevention was through the NF-kappa B and STAT-3 activation pathways. According to a another research published in 2010 of the journal “Phytomedicine“, licorice root has the capability to inhibit inflammation by acting on cycloxygenase andlipooxygenase enzymes.
Licorice has been used common in Europe to promote the improvement of peptic ulcers. Usually an supplementation containing, DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), is used for ulcer therapy. Some researches demonstrated that licorice root -derived compounds can increase the concentration of prostaglandins in the digestive system that encourage mucous secretion from the stomach, as well as produce new cells in the stomach lining. In a study of deglycyrrhizinated licorice in gastric ulcer, 33 gastric ulcer patients were treated with either 760 mg, 3 times a day, or a placebo for 1 month. There was a important greater decrease in ulcer size in the DGL group 78 percent, than in the placebo group 34 percent. Complete improvement occurred in 44 percent of those receiving deglycyrrhizinated licorice, however in only 6 percent of the placebo group.
Lab experiments have identified some components in licorice that may help prevent DNA mutations, inhibit tumor formation and moreover kill cancer cells. In animal-based studies, glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhizic acid reduced formation of colon, liver, breast and uterine cancers.
Scientists at the “Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics” have discovered that licorice root contains compounds with an anti-diabetic property. Experiment on mice, the researchers found that the consumption of amorfrutins reduced blood sugar levels and inflammation that would otherwise be present in the mice suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
Commission E recommends a daily intake dry extracts equivalent to 200 mg – 600 mg of glycyrrhizin. But, the Commission E advises against using Licorice for more than 4 to 6 weeks without the guidance of a doctor.