Monday, April 11, 2005

The Root of Goodness


Literally translated Glycorrhiza means 'sweet root', owing to the component glycyrrhizin which is 50 times sweeter than sugar. However, apart from its use for the world's best candy, this remarkable plant also has many medicinal properties.

Liquorice root has been used to treat a wide range of ailments for millenia. In Europe, it has alleviated coughs and bronchitis since at least the 14th century. It soothes the stomach and can bring relief from ulcers. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It acts as a liver tonic and may lower cholesterol. It may even enhance memory.

On the other hand, it can have ill-effects.Some patients who suffer from hypertension may owe their condition to a love for liquorice. Excessive consumption of glycyrrhizin increases the level of aldosterone, which can cause high blood pressure due to water retention. Reduced potassium levels (hypokalemia), resulting from sodium retention, can lead to headaches, heart problems (arythmia) and in extreme cases paralysis.

On the other hand, glycyrrhizin acts as a thrombosis-buster. it also kills cells infected by Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes virus by interfering with the expression of latency genes.—making it a whole new kind of anti-viral agent! Such beneficial properties may offset its potential side-effects.

But glycyrrhizin is by no means the only bio-active component of liquorice; many of the potential pharmaceutical effects of liquorice root extracts are due to flavonoids.

The flavonoid Licochalcone hasanti-tumor activity and shows promise for the development of new cancer drugs.

Flavonoids also inhibit oxidation of low-density lipoprotein by macrophages. Glabridin in particular may offer hope for the treatment of atherosclerosis while others may protect the liver

In short, there is much more to liquorice than simple enjoyment. Regular intake, in moderation, may lead to a healthier, happier life.

3 Comments:

Blogger CJ said...

It's also a fairly decent expectorant.

5:09 PM  
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10:58 AM  
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