We have all heard about licorice and some of us may even be familiar with it. But the question remains, is licorice good for you? Can it damage your health?
Is it candy? How much of it should we consume? The list of questions could go on and on.
But that’s what this article is here for, keep reading to find the answers to all your licorice-related questions!
A stick of licorice is easily identifiable by its characteristic flavor and appearance.
Due to the texture and flavor, some people have loved it since they were little, while others don’t care as much.
Perhaps you enjoy it and have wondered how healthy it is, or maybe you dislike it but are curious to learn more.
This article will walk you through the ins and outs of licorice, including its benefits, drawbacks, and adverse effects.
What is licorice?
Funnily enough, the word “licorice” typically makes us think of dark, bite-sized candies, liquorice is actually a plant.
Although it originated in Southern Asia and is linked to the pea plant, the licorice plant today grows throughout the Middle East, southern Europe, and even Yorkshire.
The roots are utilized to create the well-known traditional treat, as well as in a number of soft beverages, snacks, food items, and herbal treatments.
According to rumors, Alexander the Great supposedly drank it centuries ago due to its purported curative properties.
The anethole content in licorice is what gives it its characteristic and inherently sweet flavor. Anethole is a substance found in anise, fennel, and a variety of herbs.
Glycyrrhizin, another substance found in black licorice, is reported to be 50 times sweeter than sugar.
Black licorice nutrition facts
The nutritional value of 42 grams of black licorice is listed below:
Is licorice candy good for you?
As with other things, licorice can be eaten in moderation, but the salty or sugary variety isn’t the healthiest.
Choose ‘simple’ versions rather than saltier/sweeter versions if you can, and consume them sparingly.
According to NHS recommendations, anyone over 40 with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or both medical disorders shouldn’t consume excessive amounts of it.
Is licorice bad for you?
As mentioned above, the NHS warns against consuming 57g of black licorice every day for at least two weeks if you are over 40 and have heart or blood pressure problems.
This could result in major health risks, such as elevated blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
It might increase cortisol levels, throw off the electrolyte balance, cause salt and fluid retention, and more.
This would all cause a rise in blood pressure, encourage edema (extra tissue fluids), and other things.
Since glycyrrhizin causes so many of licorice’s negative effects, it is typically taken out of dietary supplements.
De-glycyrrhizinate licorice (DGL) is the name for such products, which are frequently used to treat digestive symptoms including heartburn.
This is caused by the glycyrrhizin concentration, which can alter your potassium and sodium levels, which assist balance bodily fluid because it is so sweet.
Issues with blood pressure, cardiac rhythm, fluid retention, and muscle weakness can all result from this fluctuation in levels.
Your sodium, potassium, and fluid levels should return to normal over time if you quit consuming licorice.
The adverse effects of black licorice have been listed under the heading “Is it healthy for everyone.”
Is licorice good for you?
Licorice is known to have quite a number of health benefits which are listed below:
- Licorice root is marketed as a remedy for viral infections, coughs, sore throats, and menopausal symptoms, including boosting bone health, and digestive problems like heartburn and peptic ulcers.
- The compounds glycyrrhizic acid and glycyrrhizic acid are responsible for the root’s anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties,
This explains why licorice is utilized in a wide range of goods, from supplements to sweets to flavored drinks.
- The ability of licorice to block an enzyme that inactivates the stress hormone cortisol is one mechanism underlying the health effects of licorice. Due to its ability to maintain normal adrenal function and regulate cortisol, this method of action can be beneficial for people who suffer from adrenal fatigue.
Health benefits of licorice root
Now that we have seen the general health benefits of licorice here is a list of them explaining how it works:
1. Can treat stomach bacteria
The growth of peptic ulcers in the small intestine, lower esophagus, and stomach has been associated with the H.pylori bacteria.
But according to a 2016 study published in The Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases, licorice extract can eradicate the H. pylori bacteria, which can assist patients to avoid developing peptic ulcers.
Further, extract from licorice root may also reduce digestive discomfort.
A 2011 study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that it was successful in treating dyspepsia in patients.
For 30 days, they consumed 75mg of licorice root extract twice daily. By the time the trial was over, the majority of their symptoms, including bloating and appetite loss, had subsided.
2. Soothes the throat
Herbal teas created expressly to help soothe sore throats frequently contain licorice root extract.
In a study conducted by Egyptian researchers, they gave a group of patients licorice gargles prior to surgery.
In order to lessen the level of agony brought on by having to remove the breathing tube that had been inserted in their throats for the operation, the study’s findings showed that the licorice gargle was just as effective as the conventional gargle solution.
3. Helps reduce menopausal symptoms
Research in the Iranian Journal of Pharmacological Research has demonstrated that licorice can relieve hot flashes.
Menopausal women were given 330 mg of licorice root extract three times a day to treat hot flushes.
By the time the trial was over, it was found that both the frequency and intensity of their flushes had decreased.
4. Remedies for skin conditions
Due to its antibacterial characteristics, licorice root has been used to treat skin infections brought on by the staphylococcus aureus bacterium.
According to a 2010 Iranian study, licorice roots and leaves are useful in treating impetigo, a skin condition that can be brought on by this particular strain of bacteria.
5. Improves oral health
It has been demonstrated that utilizing licorice root extract can stop cavities from developing.
This is because it inhibits the growth of germs that cause cavities, like Streptococcus mutants.
Licorice can destroy the microorganisms that lead to dental damage, according to research that was carried out on preschool children whose oral health was tested by using sugar-free licorice lollipops.
According to experts at the University of Washington, it can also aid in the treatment of mouth ulcers.
6. May treat chronic bronchitis
People with COPD who use licorice root supplements may experience a slower onset of chronic bronchitis (COPD).
The glycyrrhizic, Asiatic, and oleanolic acids present in licorice root have an antioxidant action that shields bronchial cells, according to studies conducted in Taiwan.
As a consequence, it was determined that licorice, when combined with conventional medical therapies, may help delay the course of COPD.
To further support this preliminary research, more study is necessary.
Is licorice healthy for everyone?
For the majority of us, eating and taking short doses of licorice present in food are both generally regarded as harmless activities.
However, if ingested in high quantities over an extended period of time, it may lower potassium levels and affect blood pressure.
Some patients, such as those with heart disease, kidney illness, and hypertension, may be especially sensitive to these effects (high blood pressure).
Moreover, even black licorice, which is consumed as a candy, may interact with some prescription drugs as well as other herbs and supplements.
These medicines include hormone replacement treatment and blood pressure drugs such as diuretics and warfarin.
Other than this there are many negative side effects of black licorice, namely:
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness in arms or legs
- Muscle pain
- Fluid Retention
High amounts of glycyrrhizic in the body are responsible for all of these negative effects.
If you have been consuming black licorice and experience any of these adverse effects, stop doing so immediately and consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your health.
For this reason, if you consume more than 57g of black licorice per day or take licorice supplements and are over 40, have a previous history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or both, you should be aware that this could result in health issues, such as an increase in blood pressure and possibly an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
This is due to the fact that glycyrrhizin, an ingredient in licorice, has a range of impacts on the body, one of which is a decrease in potassium levels, which interferes with muscle function and electrolyte balance.
Therefore, before including licorice in your diet if you belong to this group, are taking prescribed medication, or supplement with other herbs, verify with your doctor or pharmacist.
Evidence suggests that eating licorice is safe during pregnancy, however, you should stay away from licorice roots.
Similarly, you must be mindful that licorice may have an oestrogenic effect on the body, which may make your situation worse if you have a hormone-sensitive medical condition.
Licorice ice cream recipe
If you’re looking for a delicious recipe to include licorice, we have got you covered. Scroll below for the recipe for Coconut, honey, sea salt, and licorice ice cream.
- Vanilla bean paste (¼ tablespoon)
- Coconut milk (1 can)
- Jarred coconut flesh (20g)
- Sea salt (1 pinch)
- Raw Honey (2 tablespoons)
- Licorice powder (½ tablespoon)
- Sea salt, honey, vanilla bean paste, and coconut milk should all be added to a saucepan and simmered over low heat until well combined.
- Take the hot mixture, whisk in the coconut meat, let it cool, and then chill it for four to five hours.
- Add the mixture to the ice cream maker once it has totally cooled. Add the powdered licorice five to ten minutes before it is finished.
This can serve up to 8 people so make sure to share this mouth-watering dessert with your friends and family!
Many people only consider licorice to be a child’s treatment, yet its chemical composition makes it highly potent—potent enough to treat several medical disorders.
If you enjoy licorice candy, it’s important to keep in mind that not all confections labeled as “licorice” actually contain licorice extract; instead, some are flavored with anise or another flavoring that tastes similar.
This means that even if you belong to one of the aforementioned categories but like licorice, you can still enjoy a sweet with a comparable flavor.
Licorice extract or glycyrrhizic acid should be included within the ingredients section of a product’s label if it contains licorice.
However, consuming too much of it can have negative effects, some of which are very significant, especially for those who already have medical difficulties.
Just remember to exercise caution the next time you consume it, because it’s a tasty treat that actually packs a powerful punch on several levels.