Licorice has a centuries-old history as a natural home remedy for gastritis, acid reflux and heartburn. It acts to support and enhance the stomach’s natural self-protective mechanisms, and promotes growth of new cells in the stomach lining. “Licorice has been an effective treatment of peptic ulcers in many countries for hundreds of years,” reports US Pharmacist.
Some of the most recent research discoveries, potentially very exciting, have explored the ability of glycyrrhizin to inhibit or prevent certain classes of virus from replicating themselves in the cells of the body. Although considerable work remains to be done, several researchers have reported positive results using licorice derivatives against SARS, influenza, and HIV. In an article in US Pharmacist titled Herbal Pharmacy: Licorice, Wendell L. Combest, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Campbell University School of Pharmacy writes that “Since 1980 strong evidence has accumulated supporting the efficacy of several compounds in licorice in the treatment of many types of viral infections. … The mechanism of this effect appears to be both a direct inhibitory action on viral replication and function and a stimulating effect on the host immune system to produce interferon, which has known antiviral effects.”
Throat and Respiratory Ailments
Licorice has long been used in folk medicine and by herbal medicine practitioners as an expectorant and cough suppressant. Colds and flu have been treated with licorice since at least Roman times. Most cough medicines include licorice extract for its soothing effects on mucous membranes.
In the 1990’s, studies began to examine the antioxidant effects of licorice, in particular its effectiveness against oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is a key factor in atherosclerosis. Some 300 different compounds in natural licorice are suspected or confirmed effective antioxidants.