Sometimes we find out that some foods offer benefits when you had not idea they were even considered healthy. It seems to be the case for licorice. Native to the Mediterranean but now grown throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, this herb is commonly used to flavor foods and beverages but what some people may not know is that it can provide a variety of health benefits.
Licorice is known to support various issues in the digestive system including stomach ulcers, heartburn, colic, and chronic gastritis. A formulation containing licorice root along with slippery elm bark, lactulose, and oat bran has been used for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Licorice contains chemicals that are thought to decrease swelling, thin mucus secretions, decrease cough, and increase the chemicals in our body that heal ulcers.
Additionally, licorice can also be taken to help sore throat, bronchitis, cough, and infections caused by bacteria or viruses. Along with the herbs Panax ginseng and Bupleurum falcatum, licorice can help improve the function of the adrenal glands, especially in people who have taken steroid drugs long-term. Steroids tend to suppress the activity of the adrenal glands, which produce important hormones that regulate the body’s response to stress. Licorice is used intravenously to treat hepatitis B and C, as well as mouth sores (lichen planus) in people with hepatitis C.
A good number of licorice products manufactured in the U.S. actually don’t contain any licorice. Instead, they contain anise oil, which has the characteristic smell and taste of “black licorice” and is often used as a substitute. Licorice tea is another popular product that can provide the health benefits mentioned above.
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