licorice root extract

Licorice Root Extract is from the licorice plants called Glycyrrhiza Glabra and Glycyrrhiza Uralensis. It contains glycyrrhizin, a very sweet syrup or powder which has medicinal properties.

The Licorice Root Extract is obtained by pounding the root of the plant, boiling it in water, then evaporating the liquid. Partial evaporation results in a syrup; further evaporation results in a gold-brown crystalline powder. The licorice powder is 50 times sweeter than sugar.

Licorice Root Extract is being studied for its anti-viral effects. In laboratory studies on cells, hen eggs and animals it has a protective effect against Influenza A (Bird Flu), SARS and Coronavirus-19 because they all act in a similar way: they penetrate the body's tissue cells. Licorice Root Extract inhibits viral penetration into the walls of the tissue cells. It is active against a variety of other DNA and RNA viruses. 

Benefits of Licorice Root Extract:

  • Diabetes:
    • "Licorice extract alleviated blood glucose levels, restored renal function, and attenuated body-weight loss. In addition, licorice extract modulated the adverse effect of diabetes on renal malondialdehyde, glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase activity. Further, licorice extract restored the total antioxidant capacity of diabetic rat kidneys." (PMID: 21314459, UAE, 2011).
    • "Glabridin prevented the deleterious effects of diabetes on learning and memory in rats." (PMID: 21616781, Iran, 2011).
    • "Amorfrutins", which has been found in a particular licorice root (Glycyrrhiza foetida), reduces blood sugar and is also anti-inflammatory. Researchers in Germany in 2012 showed that in an experiment with diabetic mice, amorfrutins improved insulin resistance, inflammation and other factors without common side-effects.
  • Influenza: anti-viral effects on Influenza (H2N2, Avian Influenza), SARS and Coronavirus-19 (Covid-19);
    • reduces permeability of membranes (inhibits viral penetration) in cells. The virus takes a few days to penetrate the cells of your body; your immune system takes a few days longer than this to adapt to the virus; by slowing down the penetration of your cells it allows your immune system to adapt and overcome the virus. Once this occurs you may have some immunity. This line of reasoning has some support in the field of medical research. It is not yet proven though. Consult your doctor.
    • it has positive effects on T-cells which are then transferable to other animals with positive results against influenza - thus it can be used to prepare a vaccine;
  • HIV: reduces permeability of cell membranes to HIV virus.
  • Hepatitis: used widely in Japan by medical practioners for the treatment of Hepatitis B patients - though this is done on the basis of its use as a traditional medicine, not on the basis of clinical trials in humans;
  • Herpes Simplex: inactivates herpes simplex particles irreversibly.
  • Bacteria:
    • anti-Streptococcus Mutans (a tooth bacteria);
    • anti-Helicobacter Pylori (an ulcer bacteria);
  • Skin Whitening: Licorice Root contains a substance called "Glabridin" which inhibits melanogenesis (the natural skin-tanning process). It can be found as Glabridin cream for external use.
Note: the evidence for these properties of licorice root extract is from animal and laboratory studies, except for Hepatitis B which is from human studies.
Side Effects of Licorice Root Extract: the extract has an aldosterone like effect; excessive intake of it, or intake over a long period, can cause hypokalemia (low potassium), hypertension and fluid retention.

Selected Articles on Licorice Root Extract Research.
Licorice Root Extract
Licorice Root Extract

Scientific Data on Licorice Root Extract:

  • Synonyms:
    • glycyrrhizin; the mixture also contains glycyrrhizinic acid;
    • (3-beta,20-beta)-20-carboxy-11-oxo-30-norolean-12-en-3-yl 2-O-beta-D-glucopyranuronosyl-alpha-D-glucopyranosiduronic acid.
  • Name Origin: from the ancient Greek word "glukurrhiza" meaning "sweet rhizome".
  • Chemical Type: triterpene glycoside.
  • Solubility: soluble in water and alcohol.
  • Metabolite: glycyrrhetic acid after hydrolysis.
  • Laboratory Extraction: "The separation and purification of glycyrrhizin from a methanol-water (70:30 (v/v)) extract of liquorice roots was achieved using high-speed counter-current chromatography." See the following for more details: Jiang Y, Lu HT, Chen F. J Chromatogr A. 2004 Apr 9;1033(1):183-6. Preparative purification of glycyrrhizin extracted from the root of liquorice using high-speed counter-current chromatography.
Glycyrrhizinic Acid
Glycyrrhizinic Acid

The Licorice Plant

Glycyrrhiza plants are members of the Fabaceae (bean) family. The Glabra species is found wild throughout Southern Europe and was classified by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), a Swedish botanist.

The Uralensis species is common in China and Russia and was classified by Friedrich Ernst Ludwig Fischer (1707-1854), a German-born Russian botanist.

The plant is a perennial shrub that grows to a height of 1.2 to 1.5 metres and has pinnate leaves about 7 - 15 cms in length. The flower is purple though sometimes light blue. It bears seeded pods of 2 - 3 cms length on its branches. However, it is from the licorice root that the extract is obtained.

There is more licorice root extract in the Chinese variety. Production from the plant can be increased greatly by raising the red and ultra-violet part of the light spectrum in the herbarium.

Licorice Root
Licorice Root in slices

Historical Uses of Licorice Root Extract:

  • In Europe licorice has been used as:
    • a remedy for coughs, consumption, bronchitis and asthma due to its carminative and expectorant properties;
    • a flavoring for many desserts, confectionaries (licorice) and alcoholic drinks;
    • a treament for settling the stomach and for the treatment of ulcers;
    • a flavoring for tobacco and snuff.
  • In China licorice has been used in accordance with principles of Chinese Qi medical theories as:
    • a tonic;
    • an expectorant;
    • for its rejuvenating properties;
    • gastric and duodenal ulcers.
  • In India licorice has been used in accordance with Ayurvedic medical theories for:
    • inflamation of the joints;
    • peptic ulcers;
    • constpation.

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This website acknowledges Pubmed ( as source for medical research abstracts.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, hypoglycemics, and people with known medical conditions and/or taking medicines should consult with a licensed physician and/or pharmacist prior to taking dietary supplements.
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