Have you come across licorice tea but been unsure of the health benefits?
Of all the herbal teas, licorice is arguably one of the most beneficial yet under-appreciated.
Why? Licorice root, also known as sweet root, is native to Asia and Europe and has been used for centuries for its medicinal benefits including in both Indian Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
A naturopath can help you understand the health benefits of licorice root and other natural medicines, and how they may be used to help you achieve your health goals. Vively Healthcare is helping people with persistent health conditions to identify the root cause of their condition and design a personalised holistic healthcare plan to treat the underlying cause. They're now offering a free no-obligation initial treatment plan designed for you by a naturopath online.
These days, the licorice root can be obtained in powdered form and applied to the skin to relieve conditions like eczema, while the leaves of the plant are dried up and made into tea.
Although it's often linked to candy and sweet beverages, licorice root is a medicinal herb that treats various health conditions, particularly those related to the digestive system. This herb comes from the root of the licorice plant, which is scientifically known as glycyrrhiza glabra, and it's usually prepared in long, dried pieces and boiled before consumed to treat stomach ulcers, chronic cough, low blood pressure and menstrual problems, among others.
The licorice extract is used as a sweetener in the food service industry. It's a byproduct of the fermentation of licorice roots, which is added to health products that are orally administered to reduce their bitter taste.
Licorice tea is simpler to prepare than licorice extract as it simply involves paring and soaking of the root in a cup of boiling water. Apart from using the root shavings, licorice tea can also be made using licorice root tea bags or dried, pulverised licorice roots.
Not only is glycyrrhiza glabra almost universally believed to be one of nature's best medicines, but it also tastes delicious!
If you like sweet beverages but want to wean yourself off sugar, substitute your sugar-sweetened beverage for a cup of licorice tea or add a little licorice root to your favourite herbal blend.
Licorice contains a natural sweetener, glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times as sweet as sucrose. Take care, though, and limit your intake of licorice to one or two cups per day and if you want to use it for medicinal purposes, use it under the supervision of a healthcare professional. There is such a thing as "too much of a good thing" and licorice can have unwanted side effects when taken in excess.
Licorice tea abounds in many health benefits when taken in moderation. It is packed with antioxidants to support the immune system's ability to fight off infections. As well as boosting the functions of the cells and tissues in the body, it contains natural detoxification agents that support bowel movement. We list below the reported benefits of licorice tea, according to herbalists and other natural therapists:
- A mild laxative, licorice tea can relieve constipation.
- Licorice tea has anti-inflammatory properties that may ease the pain of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
- It helps protect the stomach lining and is recommended for use for those who use medications that may damage the mucous membrane in the stomach. Ask your health care provider before taking licorice tea with other medications as it may reduce their effectiveness or cause an adverse reaction.
- Licorice is an expectorant and can be beneficial to bronchial conditions.
- Studies have shown that licorice helps the liver neutralise toxins and can be beneficial in treating liver conditions such as hepatitis.
- Licorice tea is reported to have antispasmodic properties.
- Licorice is often recommended by herbalists as a substitute for St. John's wort as a treatment for depression.
- It is reported to significantly ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Licorice tea is used to treat low blood pressure.
- Licorice is believed to fight the formation of plaque in blood vessels and may help prevent heart disease.
- Drinking licorice tea regulates high levels of cortisol levels to relieve stress.
- Licorice root tea increases urination to help lighten the load of the kidneys and bladder, as well as filtering the liver.
- It regulates the cellular activity and fights free radicals that damage cells and tissues, leading to a host of diseases.
- It improves metabolism and prevents complications due to diabetes, including vision impairment, heart disease, kidney damage and nerve damage.
Consuming a reasonable amount of licorice tea every day helps address low blood pressure, or hypotension, increasing it to normal levels. Studies show that drinking 50g of licorice tea for two consecutive weeks has significantly increased the blood pressure of individuals with low blood pressure.
The antiviral and antimicrobial properties of licorice tea can combat microorganisms that cause sore throat. If you're already suffering from the condition, drinking at least two cups of tea each day will help eliminate the pain fast. Research shows that gargling a licorice root solution is also a proven remedy.
Ulcers are caused by the inflammation of the stomach lining resulting from the presence of bacteria in the digestive tract. Drinking a cup or two of licorice root tea can treat stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal conditions thanks to its antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
The moisturising agents and antioxidants contained in a topical licorice solution help maintain healthy skin and reverse premature signs of ageing. Glycyrrhetinic acid is another active ingredient that helps soothe skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Drinking licorice root tea sensibly can help relieve menstrual cramps. It also makes the pain and discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including mood swings, bloating and exhaustion, more manageable.
The antimicrobial agents of licorice root tea are responsible for fighting bacteria that cause chronic cough, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. Its anti-inflammatory components, on the other hand, soothe the airways to make breathing easier and painless.
Licorice is part of our world's traditional medical history. In addition to being an important herbal remedy in traditional Western medicine, it has been used in both Indian Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):
- The Roman legions used licorice to help increase stamina and endurance. They also used it because its water retention properties helped them survive longer without water.
- In Ayurvedic medicine, licorice is used alone and in combination with ginger and/or cardamom as a general tonic, in addition to its use for the treatment of many of the conditions mentioned above. Combined with milk, it is believed to be a sexual tonic.
- Licorice is considered a "first-class" medicine in TCM because it helps preserve life.
When shopping for licorice tea, see to it that the item meets the standards of the food and drug administration, whether it's a dried licorice root, powdered licorice tea, or a box of tea bags. You also want the amount of glycyrrhizin clearly stated in the label to avoid potentially consuming more than you should of this substance.
Suppose you're buying licorice extract for medicinal purposes, make sure that the item is registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration to ensure your safety. Better yet, seek advice from your primary health practitioner first before making your selection.
Preparing licorice root tea takes longer than powdered tea or tea bags. The reason is that you have to boil the root in water, give it ample time to steep, strain it, and throw away the dried root. With the powdered formula, you only have to put a teaspoon of it in your cup, add water and drink up. The tea bag's the simplest to use; just plop it into your cup and add water.
Despite its powerful health benefits, licorice root tea should be limited to three cups a day for a period of no more than four weeks, according to professional healthcare practitioners. Some of the side effects of drinking too much licorice tea include:
- Extended use of licorice tea can cause a sodium build-up in the body, which can lead to high blood pressure.
- Overuse can lead to mild edema (swelling) in the face and ankles.
- A diuretic and laxative, too much licorice tea can upset normal bowel functions.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid licorice in all forms, and the same applies to anyone with hypertension.
Taking excessive amounts of licorice tea will release too many mineralocorticoids, a group of hormones produced in the adrenal cortex, which regulates the salt mineral in the body. Once this happens, your potassium levels will go down while your sodium levels go up. Low potassium hinders the nerves and muscles from functioning properly, while high sodium makes it difficult for the kidneys to excrete waste products.
Licorice paralysis is a condition wherein muscle weakness resulting from overconsumption of licorice leads to paralysis. Although it's not common, licorice paralysis does happen so be wary of your daily doses of licorice root tea.
Drinking licorice tea every day will no doubt boost your health in no time. However, it pays to be mindful of the amount you consume because too much can lead to a slew of health conditions. The list includes high blood pressure, irregular heart palpitations, swelling and brain impairments in infants whose mums consumed high amounts of the tea during pregnancy.
To find an authorised seller or distributor of licorice root tea in Australia, check out our listings on the Natural Therapy Pages.