Licorice is an Adaptogen that comes from the root of the herbaceous perennial Glycyrrhiza glabra.
The Chinese have used Licorice to help with coughing. Both Licorice Root and Licorice Juice are used medicinally. Licorice juice is used for viral liver inflammations, and, in Asian medicine, the root is used for boils, diarrhea, headache, excessive thirst, sore throat, and swellings from infections. Licorice speeds healing of stomach ulcers.
Licorice contains the isoflavone (phytoestrogen) compounds glabridin and glabrene which demonstrate estrogen-like activities.
Licorice acts as an adrenal stimulant and antacid. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a compound that raises the body's levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol. This occurs because licorice slows the breakdown of cortisol produced by the body. When adrenal function is sub optimal, licorice can be helpful.
The aroma is reminiscent of anise or fennel, but considerably stronger. The taste is dominantly sweet, warm and medical.
Licorice root contains about 4% glycyrrhizin, the potassium or calcium salt of glycyrrhizinic acid. Glycyrrhizinic acid is a glycoside of a pentacyclic triterpene carboxylic acid (18?-glycyrrhetic acid) with two molecules glucuronic acid. Glycyrrhizin is about 50 times sweeter than sucrose.
A flavonoid glycoside has been identified: liquiritin. The aglycon liquiritigenin is in part spontaneously formed when the root is dried; it is responsible for the spasmolytic effects of licorice.
Licorice contains traces of essential oil; volatile constituents identified include bicyclic monoterpenoid ketones (fenchone, thujone) and coumarins (herniarin, umbelliferone).
Large doses of glycyrrhizinic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid in Licorice could lead to hypokalemia and increased in blood pressure, a syndrome called apparent mineralocorticoid excess.
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