Licorice root has been used for treating ulcers, inflammatory skin conditions, low body weight, hepatitis, acidity, laryngitis, SARS, bronchitis, and many other conditions, for many years. In fact, there are references to licorice root in ancient Ayurvedic texts, dating back to 3000 B.C.
According to multiple studies, the key chemical constituent “glycyrrhizin” has shown promising results and may be as effective as allopathic anti-ulcer medications.
Peptic ulcers tend to be a result of a infection with a bacteria known as “Heliobacter Pylori”. This is why conventional treatment involves the use of anti-biotics. Licorice, however, has proven to be effective in eradicating this bacteria too.
In one study, a group of 100 people were treated with a liquid extract of licorice root for six weeks. 90% of the patients improved and in 22 cases, the ulcers completely disappeared. In other studies, Licorice has been seen to work just as effectively as other anti-ulcer drugs such as Bismuth. (1-3)
Formulas containing Licorice root/Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice root have been effective in eradicating H.Pylori and assisting in healing ulcers. Even an endoscopic survey of 32 patients treated with deglycyrrhizinated Licorice root showed healing of ulceration. (4,5)
How to use Licorice Root
Licorice root can be used as a “whole herb” or “extract” for treating Peptic ulcers as well as gastric ulcers. In my practice, I recommend the use of “whole herbs” over extracts most of the time, due to the fact that this form usually results in little or no side effects (in the right dose). High doses of Licorice root, over a long time, can result in high blood pressure and possibly elevated Cortisol levels too.
In my experience, when using Licorice root alone, it may take 6-8 weeks to heal an ulcer. Therefore, it is better to combine it with other medicinal plants that have similar effects.
As far as side effects are concerned, Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice is a safer option. Although the main chemical constituent known as Glycyrrhizin, is believed to be the key factor in treating most of the above-mentioned conditions, many doctors suggest that Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) is just as effective and more safe for long term use.
Your condition, metabolism and body type, will determine which form of licorice is best for you.
Speak to an Ayurvedic doctor about using Licorice root.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.