It can be difficult to limit our intake of sweets. But did you know that some popular treats, like licorice, are actually derived from the root of a plant—the uses of which transcend confectionery traditions?
The liquorice plant has been used as a remedy to treat several issues for thousands of years. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), both Eastern and Western medicine applies it to a variety of illnesses, ranging from the common cold to liver disease. “It acts as a demulcent, a soothing, coating agent,” explains UMMC, “and as an expectorant, meaning it helps get rid of phlegm.” The use of the extract may cause side-effects, so please consult with your doctor before integrating this natural ingredient into your health and beauty regimen.
Here are a few of my favorite uses for the versatile liquorice root:
Liquorice root is tasty—which is why it makes such a delicious candy—but it also has properties that benefit oral care while freshening your breath. The original candy breath freshener, Sen-Sen, was made with liquorice and sold in general stores across the country as early as the 19th century. Sadly this iconic candy was discontinued in 2013, but the unique flavor derived from liquorice root remains in demand today.
Liquorice extract is a popular natural ingredient in numerous products, including Tom’s of Maine’s Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste. Besides its sweet flavor, the extract also has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it the perfect ingredient for keeping your teeth (and breath) clean. Plus, it is an herbal ingredient, so don’t brush off this remedy as any other natural substance just yet. Its lasting benefits to oral care are hard to ignore.
Liquorice extract’s conditional uses are very diverse, known for reducing peptic ulcers, relieving pain from canker sores, aiding indigestion, and treating upper respiratory infections. Gargling with liquorice can even help relieve the pain that comes from having a sore throat.
One of the most popular uses for liquorice is aiding in weight loss. Research cited by the UMMC shows the ingredient reduces body fat when consumed regularly (3.5 grams of licorice a day) and when applied topically. Although nothing beats a healthy diet and ample exercise, it is nice to have a friend in liquorice root, waiting in the wings to supplement a physical routine with a body fat-blasting boost every once in a while. Don’t forget to check in with your doctor before starting any new weight loss routine.
Eczema is a frustrating condition that irritates the skin with redness, itching, and swelling. In another UMMC study, it was found that liqorice applied to the skin in gel form helped to relieve the symptoms of eczema better than a product containing less of the root. Liquorice extract has also been known to aid in skin care by reducing the redness of scars and blemishes.
Liquorice extract offers similar benefits to the hair and scalp by limiting dandruff and fortifying the hair shaft. It is also believed that adding some liquorice essential oil to tea helps to stimulate hair growth.
So, the next time you treat yourself to a Good & Plenty, remember that liquorice root is so much more than a tasty flavor. What are some of your favorite health and beauty products that contain liquorice extract? Let us know with a #GoodMatters tweet or by leaving a comment below.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.