A unique herb with a number of active components
There are few plants that can boast a diverse and highly active components. One such plant is the herb licorice known in our latitudes as liquorice or licorice. Licorice been used for centuries in traditional medicine in southern Europe, the Middle East and China. Some of its properties are confirmed clinically and literally can assume that this is a unique plant that can use successfully for a number of health problems, but also you have to be very careful, because some of the side effects.
What is licorice?
Licorice has been used successfully in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of digestive, heart and respiratory problems, as well as promote overall health. In Greek medicine herb has been used for the treatment of pectoral and respiratory diseases as well as in the prevention of Addison’s disease. Common is its use in sweets and candies, because the strong sweetness.
Licorice belongs to the family Fabaceae and covers several types of common name Glycyrrhiza. Literally predvod of Greek glycyrrhiza means liquorice. Glitsirizonovata acid is distinguished by its sweetness and is nearly 50 times sweeter than regular sugar.
Perhaps the most important active ingredient in licorice is glycyrrhizin, which is actually the main culprit for the sweet taste of the herb. Glycyrrhizin accounts for between 2 and 15% of the dry weight of the root, but the content in vodoalkoholen extract could reach 9.1 percent. It is the most important component of the herb because of the high percentage of content and bioactivity in the human body.
Glycyrrhizin is the main culprit for some of the negative effects of licorice, such as the lowering of testosterone and increased cortisol. Therefore, in the market, although more rarely, extracts were detected with a minimum content of glycyrrhizin and rich in the other components.
Other active ingredients are flavonoids glabridin, likoritigenin, coumarins, formononektin, glizoflavon and others. Some of these components are distinguished by strong activity and can offer promising properties that have yet to be explored. Glabridinat is considered to be the second most active ingredient, at this stage there is only one patented extract with a high content of flavonoid, which reaches up to 3%. The patented formula is called Glavanoid and is owned by the famous Japanese manufacturer Kaneka. One of the advantages of the product is that it contains up to 30% flavonoids, such as glycyrrhizin is almost excluded.
The producers also offer other extracts without glycyrrhizin. The process of producing such extracts are called deglitsirinizatsiya.
How does Licorice?
The two main active component glycyrrhizin and glabridin have relatively low digestibility. Nearly 7.5% of glabidrina was digested completely, whereas glycyrrhizin is difficult to determine an approximate value because its absorption in the intestine depends entirely on the activity of the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies to date have shown that doses of between 100 and 1600 mg successfully increased serum levels of bioflavonoid. One of the metabolites of glycyrrhizin in the face of glycyrrhetinic acid, an extremely high digestibility, reaching 98%.
Glycyrrhizin and glabridinat reach blood serum and retain their bioactivity.
Once in the small intestine, glycyrrhizin is metabolised by the bacteria to glycyrrhetinic acid, and then is processed to other metabolites in the liver. The main components of licorice quickly reach body tissues, with the highest concentrations are in the liver.
The activity of the components of licorice does not last for a long period of time, it is considered that 180 minutes are sufficient to complete metabolism and excretion from the body.
The main mechanism of action of licorice is associated with the enzymatic activity of its two main components. Glycyrrhizin enhances the activity of P-glycoprotein and the enzyme CYP3A4, while glabridinat has exactly the opposite properties, and suppressed to a small degree P-glycoprotein and to a greater extent P450 enzymes CYP3A4 and CYP2B6.
Potential and proven benefits in people
- Strong antioxidant properties, reducing by nearly 20% oxidation of bad cholesterol in long-term intake of 6 months. The benefits are due to flavonoids glabridin;
- Due to its antioxidant activity, is observed and a decrease in lipid perioksidatsiya, but in relatively low levels;
- The use of licorice as an ointment successfully helps in the treatment of ulcers by regulating the size of the wound and reduces pain;
Increased serum levels of the hormone DHEA, but only in males. There is a change in other hormones, such as cortisol increase and decrease of testosterone in both sexes. No evidence of precise parameters of the changes in the various studies reach different enclosed depending on the particular individual sex and dose;
- Increasing levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) in women healthy;
Possible increase in luteinizing hormone, but the evidence at this stage are limited and uncertain;
- Potential benefits in combating insomnia. It is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, but at this stage there is no confirmatory testing on humans
Potential benefits in slowing cognitive decline. Used traditionally in China;
- Licorice has been used in traditional medicine in respiratory diseases and lung diseases. In isolation Licorice appears weaker properties in the treatment of asthma, but has a strong synergy and enhances the action of other ingredients such as ephedrine, white mulberry and mushroom Ganoderma.
Potential and proven benefits in animals
- In tests on rats, Licorice has been used successfully in controlling dopamine spikes in cocaine use. The use of licorice has a strong potential therapy against cocaine addiction;
- Possible benefits in suppressing appetite;
- Improves the duration of sleep and reduces sleep time in mice. The mechanism of action is associated with the impact on the GABA receptor;
- Exhibits strong neuroprotective properties and slows cognitive decline in rats. Potential benefits in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease;
- Successfully increases levels of acetylcholine by inhibiting nearly 25% of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase;
- Adjusts fatigue during prolonged exercise, by reducing lactic acid;
- Accelerate the burning of fat and improves insulin sensitivity in rats, but limited human studies do not confirm such properties;
- Potential benefits in slowing the progression of tumors due to the ability to block the development of new blood vessels. The greatest potential component has likortigenin;
- Although lowers testosterone Licorice protects the testicles with intoxication;
- Several components in sweet root through various mechanisms to successfully prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver.
Benefits proven only in vitro tests
Glabridinat regulate significant neuroinflammatory processes;
Potential properties to block the absorption of fats in the intestine;
It is possible to prevent the complications of atherosclerosis in patients with diabetes type II, regardless of gender;
Potential anticancer properties, especially in prostate cancer and breast cancer. Potential properties to protect the heart during chemotherapy on cancer;
Adjusts cramps in the abdominal muscles and colon.
Directions of using
The recommended dose depends entirely on whether or herb extract used in raw form.
Traditional Chinese medicine recommends daily use of the herb from 8-15 grams to 100 grams in severe disease states. Not to be missed the fact that in the case Licorice consumed as food and must count the extra calories.
If taken extract daily dose should be adjusted according to the amount of glycyrrhizin acid or diglitsirizonova. It is assumed that up to 500 mg of glycyrrhizin daily will have minimal impact on hormones, and 150 mg are perfectly safe. The normal daily dose of diglitsirizonova acid varies between 150 and 300 mg daily doses up to 1800 mg is considered safe and non-toxic.
There is no set time limits for taking the herb. If taken in normal doses it is considered that can be upotryabva for long periods of time.
Contraindications and side effects
In large doses Licorice and its extracts can be toxic.
Raw liquorice is safe to 100 grams per day, but is not recommended for such quantities are consumed for a long period of time. The consumption of 200 g liquorice leads to feelings of fatigue and tiredness.
The use of the extract depends on the content of glycyrrhizin. Deglitsiriziran extract is safe to use up to 1800 mg daily, and safe amount of glycyrrhizin is up to 500 mg daily. Higher doses can have negative effects as regards the hormones testosterone and cortisol. Along with the rise in cortisol experienced a sharp increase in blood pressure, and therefore not recommended for people with high blood pressure. One hundred and fifty milligrams of glycyrrhizin per day does not affect hormones.
Intoxication with liquorice is considered extremely severe and can result in death or rhabdomyolysis. At this stage, there is one death in which a woman 34 years of age is only consumed licorice for 7 months.
Not recommended for use liquorice during pregnancy because of high risk of premature birth and low weight of the fetus.
What can combine liquorice?
Licorice possesses antibacterial properties, and therefore can be combined with other components such as berberine, cranberry and garlic.
Particularly effective is a combination of lycopene with licorice, and the two agents act synergistically to prevent the oxidation of LDL. A similar effect can also be achieved with the addition of Vitamin E.
Licorice can also be used as a tonic or a means to maintain the overall health. For this purpose can be successfully combined with adaptogens as ginseng and Rhodiola.
It is also used extensively against respiratory diseases and allergies. To counter such allergies is recommended to combine with quercetin and bromelain.
Possible but unproven assertion is that the use of licorice increases circulating levels of vitamin D in the body. Potential combination is an extract from licorice with a bioactive form of vitamin D as D-3 (cholecalciferol).
Where can we find liquorice?
Licorice can be found as a food product, although Bulgaria is not as popular as such. The herb often occurs as tea, especially in combination with other herbs and plants. Tea is not a reliable source because there is no criterion by which to obtain the necessary substances.
As a dietary supplement, Licorice is available in the form of an extract, it can be standardized extract by the presence of glycyrrhizin or deglitsiriziran extract. NOW Foods offer both option as Licorice Root is a standardized product, DGL is a variant without glycyrrhizin.
Licorice also contains some complex formulas, such as products for the treatment of respiratory allergies NOW Foods Respir-All, or natural energizing formula NOW Foods Energy.