Liorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a very common medical plant. Most people maybe familiar with liquorice, the plant that gives liquorice its distinctive taste. A plant that can be grown in pastures and fields throughout Europe.
The main active substances in liquorice are saponins, flavonoids and coumarin. Its characteristic saponin is glycyrhizin.
Glycyrrhizin can have powerful neuroprotective effects by helping nerve cells to recover from injury. Large overproduction of glutamate, which activates nerve cells, can lead to cell damage - when nerce cells become so over-excited that they are damaged, a process called excitotoxicity, and can be a breeding ground for many diseases. A number of toxins and abnormal processes (such as epilepsy and autoimmune processes) can also cause excitosis, and excitosis has been linked to the development of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia. Studies have shown that the active ingredients in liquorice (mainly glycyrrhizin) help recovery from excitosis. This was tested by the 'simple' method of inducing nerve cells to overactivate (excitotoxicity) with high levels og glutamate and monitoring the number of cells that survived.
In addition, liquorice also has expectorant, cough suppressant and anti-inflammatory effects. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, it can improve gastric ulcers and has anti-tumour and anti-infective effects. Its anti-infective effects have been studied mainly in Covid and SARS Cov viruses.
However, in addition to its promising effects, liquorice has some undesirable effects and it is important to stick to the recommended intakes. Licorice can increase cortisol levels by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down cortisol, thus increasing stress hormone levels and thus blood pressure. People suffering from cardiovascular disease should avoid liquorice as even the recommended daily intake may increase blood pressure.
It also lowers blood potassium levels, so when taking liquorice supplements, care should be taken to ensure a higher intake of potassium - the best way to do this is to take a potassium supplement.
To avoid side-effects, liquorice should only be taken as a cure. As a preventive measure, the recommended daily dose is 150-300 mg of extract, equivalent to 8-15 grams of root - this is the dose that most studies have used. Doses are higher for the treatment of diseases, but consult a doctor before use. So take 150-300 mg of liquorice extract for 4 weeks, then take a break of 1-2 months at least.