August 9, 2012

Whip Your Stress With Licorice. ~ Dr. Melinda Ring

Photo credit: aSIMULAtor

In recent years, many people in the medical community have begun to embrace non-pharmaceutical, natural resources such as herbs.

One herb that has gained great popularity and widespread use is licorice root.

It’s easy to understand why this herb has become so well-known, as licorice root has been linked to a variety of different health benefits.

It has been used to treat everything from gastrointestinal issues to chronic stress and numerous people have found it to be an effective addition to their healthful lifestyles.

Here are some of the benefits of licorice root, as well as some considerations to take into account:

There are two main forms of licorice root.

The first form is a compound of the whole licorice root, often times standardized to the amount of the glycerrhizin present—also readily available is deglycerrhinized licorice root or DGL.

Glycyrrhiza has been known to cause adverse effects in humans such as elevated blood pressure and low potassium, so for many conditions deglycerrhinized licorice root is now the preferred choice.

When purchasing licorice root online or perusing at an herbal store, make sure you take these different options into account and in any case limit use to four to six weeks at a time.

Licorice root is available in capsule, liquid or tablet form and peeled licorice root can come in powdered forms.

(And, please remember, before taking licorice root or any herb, you should first talk to your doctor as it can interfere with prescription medications and lab tests.)

Licorice root has been shown to have an anti-cancer effect.

Recent research from Rutgers University has shown that licorice root may help to fight common cancers including breast and prostate cancer.

Licorice root can offer gastrointestinal protection.

Studies show that DGL can help to protect against bleeding caused by aspirin or non-steroidal pain killers and may help speed the healing of gastric ulcers. This is important because over 100,000 people are hospitalized every year for non-steroidal induced bleeding in the gut.

DGL is also a well-known treatment for common heartburn, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux.

Licorice root can help reduce symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

One in eight women has some component of PCOS and symptoms include menstrual irregularities, excessive hair growth on the face/body, central weight gain, infertility and acne.

Studies show women who take the drug spironolactone to help with these symptoms may feel more energy when balancing the medication’s side effects with licorice root extract.

Licorice root can help combat depression and stress.

Licorice root includes compounds that help to combat depression and it can be an effective way to help to treat mild mood issues.

Licorice root can help to decrease body fat.

A recent study found that people who had 3.5 grams of licorice root a day for two months had lower body fat along with reduced LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Some people also report that licorice root helps them to reduce their sugar cravings.

Licorice root helps to heal the respiratory system.

Whether you are dealing with a troubling cough or you have an uncomplicated respiratory infection, licorice root can help to decrease your uncomfortable symptoms and get you back on the path to wellness.

When looking for licorice root, make sure that you are purchasing a quality and trustworthy product.

Visit www.consumerlab.com to read reviews and ensure that the company you are purchasing from is reliable and remember to talk to your doctor before beginning any herbal regimen.

Melinda Ring, MD, serves as the Medical Director of Northwestern Integrative Medicine. She is board-certified in internal and integrative medicine, the innovative practice of combining conventional Western medicine with safe, evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine therapies to improve the health of her patients. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her expertise is reflected in her contributions to textbooks, lectures and research articles in the field of Women’s Health and Integrative Medicine. Her first book, Natural Approaches to Menopause, was published in 2012 by Rodale Books. Dr. Ring strives for a balanced life of work, family and play with her husband, two energetic sons and their funny canine companions.

Editor: Jamie Morgan

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