What is Licorice Powder Extract?
Licorice root has been used in Europe since prehistoric times, and its medicinal use is well documented (Fiore et al 2005). References to licorice date back to approximately 2500 BC on Assyrian clay tablets and Egyptian papyri. It has been used as both a food and a medicine since ancient times. The genus name, meaning ‘sweet root’, is attributed to the first century Greek physician Dioscorides. The herb is also popular in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines (Blumenthal et al 2000).
One of the world use most herbs：
Licorice is used for many ailments including asthma, athlete’s foot, baldness, body odour, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, prostate enlargement and arthritis.
Licorice root contains many anti-depressant compounds and is an excellent alternative to St. John’s Wort. As a herbal medicine it has an impressive list of well documented uses and is probably one of the most over-looked of all herbal wonders. Licorice is useful for many ailments including asthma, athlete’s foot, baldness, body odor, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, prostate enlargement and arthritis.
Hundreds of potentially healing substances have been identified in licorice as well, including compounds called flavonoids and various plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). The herb’s key therapeutic compound, glycyrrhizin (which is 50 times sweeter than sugar) exerts numerous beneficial effects on the body, making licorice a valuable herb for treating a host of ailments. It seems to prevent the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol (the body’s primary stress-fighting adrenal hormone), making these hormones more available to the body.
Chemical constituents of Licorice Powder Extract
Licorice contains several triterpenoid saponins (4–20%), the most studied of which is glycyrrhizin (GL, also known as glycyrrhizic acid or glycyrrhizinic acid), which is a mixture of potassium and calcium salts of glycyrrhetinic acid (GA). Other triterpenes include: liquiritic acid, glycyrretol, glabrolide and isoglabrolide (Asl & Hosseinzadeh 2008).
Other important constituents include: flavonoids (isoflavonoids, liquiritin, isoliquiritin, liquiritigenin, formononetin, glabridin, rhamnoliquiritin, neoliquiritin and the chalcones [isoliquiritigenin, licochalcone A and B]); sterols (beta-sitosterol, dihydrostigmasterol); polysaccharides (arabinogalactans); coumarins (liqcoumarin, glabrocoumarone A and B, herniarin, umbelliferone, glycerin, glycocoumarin, licofuranocoumarin, licopyranocoumarin and glabrocoumarin); phenols, fatty acids, glabrol; amines; glucose, sucrose; resin; and volatile oil. 5,8-Dihydroxy-flavone-7-O-beta-D-glucuronide, glychionide A, 5-hydroxy-8-methoxyl-flavone-7-O-beta-D-glucuronide, glychionide B, hispaglabridin A, hispaglabridin B, 4′-O-methylglabridin and 3′-hydroxy-4′-O-methylglabridin, glabroisoflavanone A and B and glabroisoflavanone B have also been isolated (Asl & Hosseinzadeh 2008, Blumenthal et al 2000).
Glycyrrhiza glabra should be differentiated from other species such as G. inflata and G. uralensis. While the constituent properties of G. glabra resemble that of G. inflata, they are not similar to G. uralensis. Furthermore, there are species-specific typical constituents including glabridin (G. glabra), licochalcone A (G. inflata) and glycycoumarin (G. uralensis) that may influence the pharmacological effects (Kondo et al 2007). Additionally, among different samples of G. glabra there may be significant differences in the content of active constituents and biological activity (Statti et al 2004). The lack of standardisation of herbs such as licorice provides a challenge for demonstrating reproducible efficacy in clinical settings.
Glycyrrhizin（major constituents of Licorice Powder Extract）
Glycyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid or glycyrrhizinic acid) is the main sweet-tasting compound from liquorice root.
It is 30–50 times as sweet as sucrose (table sugar). Pure glycyrrhizin is odorless. Although sweet, the taste sensation of glycyrrhizin is different from that of sugar. The sweetness of glycyrrhizin has a slower onset than sugar has, and lingers in the mouth for some time. Unlike the artificial sweetener aspartame, glycyrrhizin maintains its sweetness under heating.
In chemical terms, glycyrrhizin is a triterpenoid saponin glycoside. Upon hydrolysis, the glycoside loses its sweet taste and is converted to the aglycone glycyrrhetinic acid plus two molecules of glucuronic acid. The acid form is not particularly water-soluble, but its ammonium salt is soluble in water at pH greater than 4.5.
Benefits of taking Licorice Powder Extract
In the United States, glycyrrhizin is classified as «generally recognized as safe» as a flavoring agent, although not as a sweetener. Glycyrrhizin is used as a flavoring in some candies, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco products.
Licorice is most commonly used as a flavoring for tobacco products such as cigars, chewing and pipe tobacco. It decreases the harshness of nicotine and improves the smoothness and flavor of the tobacco. Licorice also improves the moisture quality and shelf life of tobacco products and ensures that the flavors are spread evenly through the tobacco. Licorice adds a sweet smell to the smoke and reduces mouth and throat dryness.
Control respiratory problems and sore throat. Licorice eases congestion and coughing by helping to loosen and thin mucus in airways; this makes a cough more «productive,» bringing up phlegm and other mucus bits. Licorice also helps to relax bronchial spasms. The herb also soothes soreness in the throat and fights viruses that cause respiratory illnesses and an overproduction of mucus.
Licorice both protects the liver and promotes healing in this vital organ. The herb’s anti-inflammatory properties help calm hepatitis-associated liver inflammation. Licorice also fights the virus commonly responsible for hepatitis and supplies valuable antioxidant compounds that help maintain the overall health of the liver.
Treat PMS and menstrual problems. The phytoestrogens in licorice have a mild estrogenic effect, making the herb potentially useful in easing certain symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), such as irritability, bloating and breast tenderness. Although the glycyrrhizin in licorice actually inhibits the effect of the body’s own estrogens, the mild estrogenic effect produced by licorice’s phytoestrogens manages to override this inhibiting action.
In vitro studies have shown GL to inhibit SARS-CV (clinical isolates FFM-1 and FFM-2) replication by inhibiting adsorption and penetration of the virus in the early steps of the replicative cycle. GL was most effective when given both during and after the adsorption period. High concentrations of GL (4000 mg/L) were found to completely block replication of the virus (Cinatl et al 2003). The ability of GL to reduce platelet accumulation in the lungs (Yu et al 2005) may also support this use and provide a possible therapeutic option for further investigation.
Preliminary evidence indicates that intravenous administration of GL may reduce replication of HIV. High-dose GL (1600 mg/day) was most effective in reducing HIV type 1 p24 antigen and increasing lymphocytes (Hattori et al 1989). In vitro, GL has the potential to inhibit viral replication in cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-infected patients infected with a non-syncytium-inducing variant of HIV (Sasaki et al 2002–03).
The anti-inflammatory action of beta-glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), a major metabolite of GL, is largely mediated by cortisol, an endogenous hormone with anti-inflammatory action (Teelucksingh et al 1990). It inhibits glucocorticoid metabolism and therefore potentiates its effects.
Several studies have found that GA inhibits the activity of 11HSD and hepatic delta-4-5-beta-steroid reductase, preventing the conversion of cortisol to its inactive metabolite, cortisone (Kageyama et al 1997, MacKenzie et al 1990, Soma et al 1994, Whorwood et al 1993). As such, cortisol activity is prolonged and levels may rise, thereby increasing its anti-inflammatory effects. It may also inhibit classical complement pathway activation (Asl & Hosseinzadeh 2008). For these reasons, licorice has also been investigated for its ability to potentiate the effects of steroid medications (Teelucksingh et al 1990).
This mechanism alone does not fully account for the anti-inflammatory effects of licorice as oral doses of GL also appear to exert an effect in adrenalectomised rats (Gujral et al 2000). GL (10 mg/kg i.p. 5 min prior to carrageenan) exerts potent anti-inflammatory effects in mice by preventing the activation of nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB and STAT-3 (Menegazzi et al 2008). The DGL also exerts anti-inflammatory effects and steroid-like activity has also been attributed to the liquiritin constituent (Bradley 1992).
The anti-allergic effects of licorice are mainly due to GL, 18-beta-glycyrrhetinic acid and liquiritigenin, which can relieve IgE-induced allergic reactions, inhibit passive cutaneous anaphylactic reactions and scratching behaviour in mice (Shin et al 2007). A mouse model of asthma GL (5 mg/kg) markedly inhibited airway constriction and hyperreactivity, lung inflammation and infiltration of eosinophils in the peribronchial and perivascular areas. It decreased interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5 and ovalbumin-specific IgE levels (Ram et al 2006). These effects may prove beneficial for the treatment of allergic conditions such as asthma and dermatitis; however, further research is required.
Early investigation into the mucoprotective qualities of licorice led to the development of the anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer medications, carbenoxolone (a hemisuccinate derivative of GA), and enoxolone (an analogue of carbenoxolone) used to treat gastric and oesophageal ulcer disease. Researchers have suggested that it may exert its mucoprotective effects by increasing mucosal blood flow as well as mucus production, and by interfering with gastric prostanoid synthesis (Guslandi 1985). Animal studies indicate that licorice preparations such as DGL improve the environment in the stomach by increasing mucus production, thereby allowing for proliferation of tissue and healing to occur. DGL increases mucus production by increasing the number of fundus glands and the number of mucus-secreting cells on each gland (van Marle et al 1981).
The increase in mucus production seen with carbenoxolone and licorice appears to occur in a number of epithelial tissues other than the digestive tract. It has been reported in the lungs and also bladder, according to in vivo studies (Mooreville & Fritz 1983), and in the trachea, accounting for its expectorant properties (Bradley 1992).
Licorice demonstrates the ability to promote mucosal repair and reduce symptoms of active ulcer (Larkworthy & Holgate 1975).
The anti-ulcer effects of licorice are due to inhibition of 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (which converts prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and F2alpha to their inactive forms) and delta-13-PG reductase. Licorice-derived compounds therefore increase the local concentration of PGs that promote mucus secretion and cell proliferation in the stomach, leading to healing of ulcers (Baker 1994).
Anti-inflammatory activity (as described above) further contributes to the herb’s symptom-relieving action.
Both oral and injectable dose forms of licorice have been tested and found to have activity against a range of viruses. In human trials, GL and its derivatives reduce the liver sequelae associated with hepatitis B and C viruses; animal studies demonstrate a reduction in viral activity for herpes simplex virus, encephalitis and influenza A virus pneumonia; and in vitro studies reveal antiviral activity against HIV-1, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) related coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, arboviruses, vaccinia virus and vesicular stomatitis virus (Fiore et al 2008). The effects appear to be mediated by the constituents GL and GA (Jeong & Kim 2002). The proposed mechanisms for these antiviral effects include ‘reduced transport to the membrane and sialylation of hepatitis B virus surface antigen, reduction of membrane fluidity leading to inhibition of fusion of the viral membrane of HIV-1 with the cell, induction of interferon gamma in T-cells, inhibition of phosphorylating enzymes in vesicular stomatitis virus infection and reduction of viral latency’ (Fiore et al 2008). It should be noted that current studies focus largely on GL, which is converted in the gut to GA and may not produce the same results as those demonstrated for GL in vitro.
Side effects and safety of Licorice Powder Extract
Licorice Powder Extract is generally considered safe, but no safety studies have confirmed this, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Even small amounts of glycyrrhizin may be dangerous if you have heart failure or heart disease, edema, hypertension, diabetes, or kidney or liver disease, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dosage of Licorice Powder Extract supplement:
The European Union suggests people should not consume any more than 100 mg of glycyrrhizic acid a day,equivalent to approximately 50 g of liquorice sweets.
In Japan, where concern over the safety of artificial sweeteners during the 1970s led to a shift towards plant-derived sugar substitutes, glycyrrhizin is a commonly used sweetener, often used in combination with another plant-based sweetener, stevia. However, the Japanese government has asked its citizens to limit their consumption to 200 milligrams per day.