The Licorice root, also known as ‘Yashtimadhu’ or ‘mulethi’, and popularly referred to as the ‘sweet root’, has been used since ancient times in Ayurveda, Indian medicine, folk medicines, and home remedies. According to Ayurveda the herb ‘yashtimadhu’ is so named as Yashti implies ‘wood’ and Madhu implies ‘honey’, together making it ‘honey-like wood’. This is because the herb is 50 times sweeter than sugar. However, don’t be taken aback by this. Despite being called sweet root, it is an excellent blood sugar modulator. Licorice root is a commonly used ayurvedic herb, and in ancient days, it was commonly found in every Indian household. The herb was used as a home remedy for various ailments, one such case being when someone in the family had a sore throat.
Licorice root can help in treating various ailments a few of which include Hyperacidity, gastritis, ulcers, liver disease, bronchitis, Asthma, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, malaria, tuberculosis, sore throat, fever, high potassium levels, eczema, hairfall, premature greying of hair, blemishes and dark spots, muscle cramps, Osteoarthritis, fatigue syndrome, menopause issues and abdominal fat. It is also an excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent, an aphrodisiac and an antacid. It also improves strength and immunity, and excellent for skin, hair and eyesight.
Out of the long list of health benefits offered by this wonder herb, let us take a closer look at few of these amazing benefits.
1. Hyperacidity, Gastritis
The licorice root is an excellent antacid, as it has the ability to reduce the overall HCL levels within the stomach. Therefore, if you are suffering from acid reflux, licorice root can come in handy. This is because it improves mucus production, thereby protecting the stomach lining from excessive acid formation. It can also treat heartburn, which is often associated with hyperacidity. It is effective in treating acute and chronic gastritis too.
2.Treats ulcers – stomach ulcer, peptic ulcer and mouth ulcer
Given, the anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties of the herb, it is effective in reducing the inflammation of stomach linings. Various studies in the past have proven its protective effects against stomach ulcer, while it also reduces instances of gastric ulceration caused by certain medications. In duodenal ulcer too, licorice root has ulcer healing properties, as it reduces ulcerations and improves gastric mucosa. Moreover, the herb has certain flavonoids that have inhibitory effect against the H.pylori bacteria, and hence, can be used against H.pylori infection and peptic ulcer caused due to the bacteria. The common mouth ulcers or canker sores that are accompanied by pain and tenderness can be eased out by gargling with Licorice root water or tea.
3. Manages Liver disease
The root can help in managing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by reducing the elevated liver enzymes. According to Ayurveda, although this may not be a cure for liver diseases, it can help in managing the condition, when taken with other liver protective herbs like Bhringraj, Giloy, Punarnava etc.
4. Reduces blood sugar levels
Quite contrary to the name ‘sweet root’ given to the herb, licorice root has antidiabetic properties, and hence, considered effective for diabetes patients. Therefore, if you are a diabetic with high blood sugar levels, licorice root can indeed be of help. However, if you are already on diabetic medications, it is necessary to check your blood sugar levels and adjust the dosages on consultation with your doctor, before consuming it.
5. Prevents Cancer
It is said that licorice root can protect against the carcinogenic DNA damage. This is because the root has certain polyphenols that can kill cancer cells. Further, studies have revealed that licorice root can be a potent alternative to chemotherapy in killing cancer cells, as it comes with lesser side-effects.
6. Skin Care
Licorice root is excellent for skin care, as it works well for all skin types. Being a natural demulcent, it exhibits a mild smoothening, brightening action on skin. When used in serums, cleansers, spot treatments and masks, it helps with issues such as hyperpigmentation and sun damage, leaving the skin brighter and clear. The extracts of the root are also potent medicine for red, acne-prone skin.
7. Hair care
Licorice has several properties that soothe scalp, helping in getting rid of irritations such as scabs and dandruff. When used with henna, it acts as a good hair conditioner, resulting in silky, shiny hair. No wonder that the herb has been referred to as ‘keshya’ in Ayurveda.
To use licorice root:
There are several ways to include the root in your diet. If you are using licorice for health reasons, you can use the dried root or its extract in the form of supplement. You can powder the root, mix 2grams of licorice powder with half a cup of warm milk and consume. Another option is to have it in the form of tea.
To make licorice root salve, add 2 tbsp of dried licorice root to 6 cups water and bring to boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 40 minutes. Add this to cold compress and apply to the skin to heal skin disorders, or add this solution to a bath for relief.
When using it for washing hair, boil two tablespoon of dried licorice root with 6 cups water and allow to be simmered for 40 minutes. Allow it to cool, and use this as a rinse for hair treatment. For topical applications
Precautions to be taken:
- Licorice should always be used in well-moderated dosages, especially when treating diabetes and blood pressure. Using high amount of licorice for prolonged periods may lead to increased blood pressure. Therefore, Ayurveda does not recommend more than 3gms a day. However, a person suffering from hypertension should avoid taking licorice for prolonged period.
- Regular intake of the herb is not advisable in patients who have an history of low potassium, as prolonged intake of licorice can lead to low potassium and high sodium in the body, leading to fluid retention.
- As licorice affects blood sugar levels, diabetic patients should take it only on consultation with a doctor.
- If you are already on blood thinners, or taking medications for other illness, avoid use of licorice.
- Pregnant women, nursing mothers and women on birth control pills are also advised to avoid licorice.