Licorice: The Medicine of Candy

Today is Fat Tues. one of the biggest party days of the year, at least in New Orleans. This made me think of Ash Wed. which made me think of Easter would made me think of black jelly beans and licorice. But, licorice has a number of medicinal uses as well as a flavoring for candy. The medicinal component come from the root of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. The root when dried and used as a supplement or simmered for a tea can increase local prostagladin production and increase mucus secretion.A property which can help improve the symptoms of heartburn/GERD. It also has an anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory, as well as an anti-viral property and the ability to stimulate the small hairs in the nose, bronchi and lungs all actions which can be of benefit to help treat cough, colds, and flu-like symptoms.

The type of licorice used to treat heartburn and colds is DGL Licorice. This has the Glycyrrhetinic acid component removed. This part of the root can lead to elevated blood pressure and low blood potassium by blocking cortisol metabolism.

Licorice root which is not DGL has been used by some Integrative and Naturopathic Doctors as a cortisol sparing supplement. This should be done with caution in conjunction with a trained professional and with monitoring of blood work and blood pressure.
So next time you see a black jelly bean, remember their not just for Easter any more.