Licorice is indigenous to Asia and Europe. The roots and the underground stems of the plant are traditionally used as flavoring agent. Although licorice is better known as a natural sweetener, in the traditional medicines for centuries it is being used as a remedy for various illnesses. The active constituents in licorice root are valued for their therapeutic properties. However, to realize the health benefits of licorice, it must be used in its pure form. Despite its beneficial effect, pure licorice should be ingested with caution. Glycyrrhizin, an active constituent of the licorice root, is associated with side effects. Furthermore, licorice should be avoided by people suffering from heart diseases, hormone sensitive cancer, edema, hypertension and kidney and liver disorders.
Licorice Is Best Known For The Following Therapeutic Uses:
1. Fights Tooth Decay
Researchers have identified two antibacterial compounds in licorice called licoricidin and licorisoflavan-A. Studies have shown that these licorice compounds can kill three major species of bacteria that infect the gum and cause dental cavity that eventually lead to tooth decay  . Although licorice tastes sweet, unlike sugar it does not stick to the teeth and attract bacteria. Therefore, pure licorice is considered beneficial for people suffering from gum diseases that if left untreated lead to gingivitis or periodontal disease.
How to Use:
2. Licorice Root Powder
To reduce swelling of gum and gum infection, make a paste by blending ground licorice root with some water and apply it to the affected area  . With regular application, by killing the harmful bacteria, this natural antibacterial paste helps relieve the gum disease.
3. Licorice Stick
Traditionally in Africa and Asia, the dried underground stem of licorice root is used for massaging the gums and brushing the teeth. Chew on the licorice stick until the outer bark loosens  . Discard the bark and continue chewing until the wood fibers separate and look like the bristles of a toothbrush. Massage your gums and brush your tooth with this natural toothbrush.
4. Licorice Mouthwash
Rinsing the mouth with homemade licorice mouthwash helps in killing the bacteria associated with dental problems. The simple way to minimize risk of dental cavities and gum infections is to add few drops of licorice extract to water and use it as daily mouthwash  . For additional benefit, combine licorice with other herbs and spices that are known for their beneficial effect on oral health. In 8oz of vodka add two teaspoons of licorice root pieces, four teaspoons of anise seed, one teaspoon of whole cloves, two teaspoons of star anise and one teaspoon of chopped cinnamon bark. Steep the spices for two weeks. Add three drops of cinnamon, mint or anise essential oil. Mix one teaspoon of the liquid with a small glass of water and rinse your mouth.
5. Licorice Tooth Powder
To fight dental cavities and reduce gum problems, use licorice tooth powder. To prepare the tooth powder you will need ½-cup each of licorice root, ground orris root, ground myrrh and baking soda, ¼ cup finely ground alfalfa and 10 drops each of wintergreen and peppermint essential oils. Finely ground the herbs and mix them with baking powder. Slowly add the essential oils, one drop at a time  . Stir and mash the mixture while adding the oil so that no lumps are formed. Through a strainer sift the mixture so that you get a fine powder.
6. Reduces Inflammation
Licorice root contains two anti-inflammatory compounds called glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhizic acid. For suppressing inflammation, drink licorice tea. To prepare the tea, add a tablespoon of shredded licorice root to a tea pot and pour a liter of boiling water over it. Steep for 15 minutes  . Strain and drink a cup of licorice tea.
7. Soothes Sore Throat
To soothe sore throat, drink licorice root tea or an herbal tea that in addition to licorice contains other herbs  . To prepare the herbal tea you will need two tablespoons of slippery elm bark and one tablespoon each of licorice, sage and hyssop. Simmer the herbs in a quart of water for several minutes. Sip a cup of the herbal tea three times a day.
8. Eases Heartburn
Licorice is known to help ease heartburn. It is an effective remedy for intestinal ulcers. For quick relief from mild heartburn, prepare licorice tea by steeping one to two teaspoons of dried chopped licorice root in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes and drink it after a meal. For relieving moderate to severe heartburn, mix ¼ to 1/8 teaspoon of ground licorice with ¼ cup of water and take it after meals and before going to bed  .
9. Fights Cold Sores
Licorice helps in fighting the herpes virus that causes cold sores  . It is usually combined with lemon balm for faster relief. To prepare licorice and lemon balm infusion for cold sore, you will need a teaspoon of chopped dried licorice root, one tablespoon of chopped fresh lemon balm and 1¼ cups water. Pour the water in a pan and add the herbs. Bring the water to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and drink the infusion. As soon as you notice the early symptoms of cold sore, take the herbal infusion 3 to 4 times a day.
10. Alleviates Canker Sores
Licorice is also an effective remedy for canker sores  . The exact cause of canker sore is unknown. An abnormal immune response, stress and allergy are some of the common causes. Gargling and rinsing the mouth with licorice mouthwash helps in clearing the sores. Mix 200 mg powdered licorice, preferably deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), with 200 ml warm water. Gargle and rinse your mouth with the mixture.
11. Fights Fungal Infection
Licorice is a powerful antifungal agent. It contains at least 25 compounds with antifungal property  . Put 5 to 7 teaspoons of licorice powder in a pan and add a cup of water. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Dip a clean cotton ball in the liquid and apply the liquid to the infected areas thrice a day.
12. Remedy For Psoriasis
Licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhetenic acid (GA), which helps in managing psoriasis flares  . Apply licorice extract to the affected areas. It may also help in clearing eczema patches and allergic dermatitis.