When you think of licorice you probably think of a sweet red chewy candy stick, or maybe the anise-flavoured black licorice we all seem to either love or hate. A real old-fashioned licorice stick is actually the dried root of the licorice plant. Sink your teeth into one and what happens next just might surprise you.
Hidden inside is a super-sweet compound called glycyrrhizin. This and dozens more chemicals lend this ancient herb its healing medical potential. For thousands of years, licorice has had a well-deserved reputation for soothing irritations such as sore throats and upset tummies and relieving congestion. Now it appears it might also have other, yet more powerful properties, though there are a few downsides worth noting, too.
So what are some of the health benefits? Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is used to treat indigestion, hepatitis C, memory loss, cancer and skin infections. Traditionally it was used as treatment for stomach ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, toothache, fever, asthma, bronchitis and coughs, too.