Submitted by Thiruvelan on Wed, 06/20/2012
Licorice May Help Lower Cholesterol

Liquorice root has a sweet flavor; it boosts overall health. Licorice root promotes normal heart rhythm, thus good for heart health and improves hormonal balance in women.

Virtually all Chinese herbal formulas contain licorice because it assists in gastrointestinal absorption and harmonizes the herbal blends.

What is Licorice? How does it lower cholesterol?

What is Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)? Glycyrrhiza glabra or licorice plant is a legume, native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. Its root extract has a sweet flavor. Licorice extract is producing by boiling the root and subsequently evaporating water to get a syrup form; it has various medical properties.

How does Licorice lower cholesterol level? The mechanism of action of licorice in lowering your cholesterol level is still not clear. It appears that licorice has pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity, thus decrease in dietary fat absorption. It makes the significant lowering of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol. Licorice’s active constituent glycyrrhetinic acid shows to reduce body fat mass; this may be due to excretion of excess lipids as feces.

How does licorice lower your heart diseases and strokes risk?

Isoflavone (formononetin) found in licorice shows effective activity in protecting mitochondrial function against oxidative stresses. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol plays a major role in the development of atherosclerosis. Isoflavone in licorice can reduce this oxidation. Isoflavan glabridin get accumulates in macrophages and inhibits macrophage-mediated oxidation of LDL by almost 80 percent. Thus, licorice prevents oxidation of LDL, in turn, stops inflammation of arteries, so no plaque formation, and heart diseases.

7 Medicinal Uses of Licorice

Licorice is soothing the mucous membranes of the throat, lungs, stomach, intestines. Additionally, with the support of the immune system, it cleanses inflamed mucous membrane.

  1. Cholesterol control - Licorice has pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity, thus helps to lower triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol. It is also effective in obesity treatment by eliminating fat deposits along with feces. However, it increases sodium and water retention that may hinder any change in body weight.
  2. Prevent LDL oxidation - Licorice’s isoflavone and isoflavan content help to prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which in turn prevents inflammation of arteries, so no plaque formation, and thus it prevents heart diseases.
  3. Strengthen digestion - Licorice is useful for various digestive problems, including stomach ulcers, heartburn, colic, and chronic gastritis.
  4. Respiratory health - Some use licorice for a sore throat, bronchitis, cough, and infections caused by bacteria or viruses.
  5. For liver disorders - There is some evidence that bioactive chemicals in licorice may effectively be treating hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  6. Menstrual Cramps - It has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and some estrogenic activity that which might assist menstrual cramp and post menstrual syndrome symptoms such as breast tenderness, menstrual cramps, nausea and bloating, not to mention mood swings.
  7. Licorice is also in use for osteoarthritis, malaria, tuberculosis, food poisoning, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Recommended Licorice daily dosage

Licorice extracts of 2 to 4 ml three times a day, or licorice root of 5 to 15 grams a day (approximately equal to 200 to 600 mg of glycyrrhizin).

How do you take Licorice?

Licorice tea recipe needs one teaspoon (2 to 4 grams) of licorice root, and 150 ml milk/water.  In a tea pan, bring milk/water to boil. Add licorice root, lower the heat and allow it to brew for 3 to 4 minutes. No need to add sugar/honey to taste (because licorice itself is 50 percent sweeter than sugar), strain it into a cup, and enjoy it.

Licorice available in different forms

Licorice is available as an extract, dried root, dried root powder, and capsules. Also, licorice can find as extracts of its bioactive components. Consult your physician and choose the best form for your effective cholesterol management.

Scientific Evidence for Licorice as natural cholesterol herb

A study with a title "ANTIDYSLIPIDAEMIC ACTIVITY OF GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA IN HIGH FRUCTOSE DIET-INDUCED DSYSLIPIDAEMIC SYRIAN GOLDEN HAMSTERS" published in Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 2009 / 24 (4) 404-409. A result indicates there is an increase in HDL cholesterol level and a decrease in triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels.

Another study with the title "Antiatherosclerotic effects of licorice extract supplementation on hypercholesterolemic patients: increased resistance of LDL to atherogenic modifications, reduced plasma lipid levels and decreased systolic blood pressure" published by Nutrition. 2002 Mar;18(3):268-73. The result shows the dietary consumption of licorice-root extract by hypercholesterolemic patients may act as a moderate hypocholesterolemic nutrient and a potent antioxidant agent and, hence against cardiovascular disease.

Possible side effects & medicine interaction of Licorice

Licorice is normally safe for most people when consumed a right dosage. You can even consume large dosages as medicine for a short period without any problems. However, it is not considering as safe when using high dosage for more than a month. Taking 30 grams or more of licorice daily for over a month may cause severe side effects; including elevated blood pressure, low level of potassium in the blood, weakness, and paralysis.

The active ingredient, glycyrrhiza, if taken in excess, can lead to pseudo-aldosteronism, which makes you overly sensitive to a hormone in your adrenal cortex. It leads to headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks.

Licorice had other side effects include tiredness, menstrual cycle problem in women, headache, sodium & water retention and decreased the desire to sex & erectile dysfunction in men.

Licorice may interact with some drugs used to slow down clotting, estrogen-containing drugs, and any drug that depletes the potassium level.