Licorice Root Is More Than a Sweet Treat, It Can Help Your Gut and More

6 minute read

For most people, gut health is not synonymous with licorice, the word licorice invokes thoughts of movies and candy. The candy is associated with a particularly intense flavor, but the actual licorice root is in a completely different class.

Known to contain essential compounds that boost health, licorice root has been used for thousands of years to treat certain health conditions.

Once you understand just how this herb can benefit you, and more specifically your gut, the word licorice will bring entirely new thoughts to mind.

More Than a Sweet Treat

Licorice root is part of the legume family but is often characterized as an herb. Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, licorice root has been used to treat and prevent several health conditions.

The popularity of licorice root for boosting health spread to Europe and eventually the world. The FDA mandates that consumers should be notified that black licorice is more than a sweet treat.

Licorice root consists of four main types of compounds that are responsible for its health-boosting benefits.

Flavonoids: These compounds are typically responsible for the pigment of the food and are powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents.

Triterpenoids: The natural version of these are stronger than manufactured ones, so the triterpenoids in licorice root serve to be beneficial.

Coumarins and stilbenoids: These are polyphenols that are known to have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.

Studies have found support for the traditional uses of licorice root when it comes to treating gastrointestinal problems. The compounds in this herb can prevent the growth of H. pylori bacteria and improve symptoms in those with gastric ulcers and gastritis.

The soothing effects combined with the beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents make licorice root a natural choice for soothing digestive issues, repairing the damage, and restoring balance.

Benefits of Licorice Root

The number of compounds in licorice root makes it easy to understand just how beneficial this herb can be to your health. Heartburn, adrenal fatigue, and leaky gut have all been treated with this herb for centuries, and given how prominent these conditions are in society today, keeping this herb around makes a lot of sense.

Adrenal Fatigue

The world we live in today puts us under great environmental, physical, and mental stress each day and as a result, adrenal fatigue is a common health problem.

Studies have found that licorice root extract reduces cortisol levels, which is the hormone associated with stress. As a result, you feel less stress and your adrenal glands get a break. Cortisol also increases inflammation throughout the body.

| Related: Lower Cortisol Levels in 6 Easy Steps: Reduce Stress Naturally |


Heartburn and acid reflux are common digestive complaints today, largely as a result of an unhealthy diet. The Western diet typically includes unhealthy fats, refined sugars, and processed foods, all of which contribute to heartburn.

Licorice root has been used to successfully treat and reduce stomach acid troubles, thereby reducing heartburn and acid reflux. A chewable tablet before your meals will be sufficient to ensure your chest remains heartburn free.

Leaky Gut

Another common digestive problem is leaky gut, and poor diet is also largely to blame for this condition, along with food allergies. Junctions in the intestinal wall become loose and allow particles other than nutrients to pass into the blood.

Leaky gut has been linked to autoimmune disorders, so addressing and healing your gut is very important.

Licorice root is both an anti-inflammatory agent and a demulcent, that is an emollient that provides relief and protection to irritated or inflamed internal tissue. Therefore, licorice root can naturally prevent continued damage and soothes any already damaged areas.


Because of its healing properties, licorice root has been researched for the treatment and prevention of certain ailments like flu and hepatitis.

The triterpenoids in this herb are strong antiviral agents, which means they can support and boost your immune system. As a result, licorice root can help your body naturally defend against, and even treat, these serious illnesses.

The leaves of licorice root have also been found to work against bacteria and may serve to treat staph and Candida infections.


Coughs and sore throats are common symptoms of cold viruses, and licorice root can bring quick relief naturally. Licorice root has proven to be an effective expectorant and can loosen and expel mucus, and eliminate a pesky cough.

The soothing properties of the herb will also bring comfort to a sore throat. Because demulcents work better when they contact the infected area directly, licorice root extracts in syrups or teas are the best way to care for a sore throat.

Pain Relief

NSAID medications are the go-to when it comes to pain relief, but too many of these can cause unpleasant side effects. A more natural option like licorice root can help relieve pain, without the risk of side effects.

As an anti-inflammatory agent, your joint pain can be reduced, and as an antispasmodic agent, your cramping muscles will be soothed.

Licorice root has also been shown to work effectively on skin conditions like eczema, bringing relief from itching in the same way as hydrocortisone.

The Bottom Line

As with any supplement, precautions should be taken, and you should speak with your doctor before taking licorice root. For the most part, healthy adults will benefit from licorice root so long as it is not overused.

This herb can cause increased blood pressure or reduce potassium levels in some people, so if you notice these effects, you may need to stop taking the herb, or only take in intervals.

Licorice may bring to mind a delicious treat often enjoyed at the movies, but licorice root is in a class of its own. With powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and soothing properties, this herb is definitely a treat for your health.

There is more than meets the eye with this herb, and it should not be confused with candy. Save the candy licorice to treat your taste buds, and start taking licorice root to treat your body to optimal health.

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