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licorice (generic name)

an herbal product - treats Viral hepatitis, Bleeding stomach ulcers caused by aspirin, Functional dyspepsia, Adrenal insufficiency, Reducing body fat mass, Inflammation, Polycystic ovarian syndrome, Familial Mediterranean fever, Apthous ulcers / canker sores, Peptic ulcer disease, High potassium levels resulting from abnormally low aldosterone levels, Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, Hyperprolactinemia, HIV, Aplastic anemia, Herpes simplex virus, Atopic dermatitis, Dental hygiene, and Upper respiratory tract infections
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Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Alternate Title

DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)

Synonyms

Alcacuz (Portuguese), alcazuz (Spanish), asam boi, bois doux (French), carbenoxolone, Chinese licorice, deglycyrrhizinised liquorice, deglycyrrhizinized succus Liquiritiae, duogastrone, Fabaceae (family), gan cao, gan zao, glabrene, glabridin, glucoliquiritin, glycyrrhetenic acid, Glycyrrhiza, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisher, glycyrrhizin, isoflavan, isoliquiritigenin, kanzo (Japanese), LA, Lakrids (Danish), lakritze, Lakritzenwurzel (German), Leguminoseae (family), licochalcone-A, licorice root, Liquiritiae radix, Liquiritia officinalis, liquirizia (Italian), liquorice, orozuz, phytoestrogen, Persian licorice, prenyllicoflavone, radix glycyrrhizae, réglisse (French), regliz, Russian licorice, Shakuyanu-kanzo-tou, shao-yao-gan-cao-tang, STW 5-11 (extracts from bitter candy tuft, matricaria flower, peppermint leaves, caraway, licorice root, and lemon balm), Suβholzwurzel, sweet root, sweet wood, yashimadhu (Sanskrit), Yo Jyo Hen Shi Ko (Japanese).

Background

The medicinally used part of licorice is the root and dried rhizome of the low-growing shrub Glycyrrhiza glabra. Currently, most licorice is produced in Greece, Turkey, and Asia.

Licorice has been used in ancient Greece, China, and Egypt, primarily for gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and ailments of the upper respiratory tract. Ancient Egyptians prepared a licorice drink for ritual use to honor spirits of the pharaohs. Its use became widespread in Europe and Asia for numerous indications.

In addition to its medicinal uses, licorice has been used as a flavoring agent, valued for sweetness (glycyrrhizin, a component of licorice, is 50 times sweeter than table sugar). The generic name "glycyrrhiza" stems from ancient Greek, meaning "sweet root." It was originally used as flavoring for licorice candies, although most licorice candy is now flavored with anise oil. Licorice is still used in sub-therapeutic doses as a sweetening agent in herbal medicines, lozenges, and tobacco products (doses low enough that significant adverse effects are unlikely).

Licorice has a long history of medicinal use in Europe and Asia. At high doses, there are potentially severe side effects, including hypertension (high blood pressure), hypokalemia (low blood potassium levels), and fluid retention. Most adverse effects have been attributed to the chemical component glycyrrhiza (or glycyrrhizic acid). Licorice can be processed to remove the glycyrrhiza, resulting in DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), which does not appear to share the metabolic disadvantages of licorice.

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