Growing up, my mom would make this natural tea from the Licorice root, whenever we had a sore throat. She would ground up the licorice root into a coarse powder or just boil the whole root in a kettle full of hot water.
To this day, I still have a fond memory of drinking the licorice tea. It tasted way better than other teas we usually had. We liked it so much that we would sometimes lie about having a scratchy throat, hoping she would make that special tea.
Little did we know at that time that this so-called Licorice root has so many hidden skin and health benefits, other than providing calming relief to the throat.
The general health benefits of licorice roots have been well documented in different cultures over the centuries.
In this article, we will highlight the top 4 skin benefits from this root.
Skin Benefits of Licorice Roots:
1. Soothe and Hydrate Skin
Consistent application of skincare that contains licorice extract can keep your skin moisturized. Licorice root contains powerful antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals from external environmental (sun, pollution) and internal (e.g., energy production) stressors. Also, the presence of “licochalcone” is ideal for individuals with oily skin because licochalcone has shown to control oil content on the skin.
2. Natural Remedies for Skin Disorders
Glycyrrhizin, an active in the licorice root, has a strong anti-inflammatory activity that is similar to cortisol and steroids. Steroids are commonly used drugs in treating inflammatory dermatologic conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
For centuries, Licorice root has been used to treat a wide variety of inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and other conditions characterized by inflammation and itch.
Licorice root has been used both orally and topically for these skin conditions. Although it is a very safe herb and has minimal side effects, one must not overeating or drinking licorice root which can lead to high blood pressure.
3. Fade Dark Spots
Hyperpigmentation or dark spots can be common after an acne breakout, an eczema flare or a sunburn. Licorice root extract is a common ingredient used in many skincare products to lighten the discoloration or pigmentation. Glabridin, an active ingredient in Licorice root, has shown to possesses anti-inflammatory effects and inhibits tyrosinase, a key enzyme that is responsible for making the pigmentation. Liquiritin is another active ingredient, which does not inhibit tyrosinase but it helps to disperse and remove melanin and pigments in the skin. In one clinical study conducted in 20 Egyptian women, the investigators showed that use of skincare cream containing liquiritin was both safe and effective in the treatment of melasma.
4. Natural Sun Protection
Skin-care products that contain the licorice extract have the potential to alleviate the discomfort and inflammation associated with sunburn. New basic research shows that licochalcone A, molecule present in licorice root, can suppress cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) expression after intense sun exposure. Both COX2 and PGE2 are inflammatory enzymes that play a role in triggering an inflammatory reaction and responsible for the painful sensation associated with sunburn. Hence, when mixed with other natural anti-inflammatory plants and herbs, such as aloe vera and crushed cucumbers, these mixtures from licorice root can provide significant comfort relief for a bad sunburn and help to maintain both moisturization content of skin.
What Else You Should Know About the Licorice Roots
The sweet flavored root is from a plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra, which is an herbaceous perennial legume generally found in the southern regions of Europe and Asia. The plant is 3-7 feet tall and has purple to blue flowers. The plant favors environment with well-drained water flow and plenty of sunshine.
To make the extract, licorice root is boiled in water till most of the water is evaporated to produce a syrup consistency. The syrup contains “glycyrrhizin,” an ingredient that is 30-50 times sweeter than sugar.
Aside from glycyrrhizin, Licorice contains a rich source of flavonoid and volatile oils that are good for the skin. In addition, other ingredients such as glycosides, glycyrrhizic acid, coumarins, chalcones and plant sterols are known to provide various health and medicinal benefits.
According to various research, licorice root can help to provide relief for heartburn, tooth decay, stomach ulcers and digestion problems. It is used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine, and it is one of the staple herbs prescribed by practitioners to treat many health conditions.
Despite all these benefits, one should not overeat licorice roots because a high level of glycyrrhizinic acid, a compound present in licorice root, can increase blood pressure, lead to weakness in the muscles and hypokalemia (low potassium level in the bloodstream), especially for people with kidney disease or heart disease.
A good healthy skin is a foundation for a beautiful and youthful look. Glowing skin is not possible without proper skin care. So the next time you are shopping for a skin product, make sure to pick something that has licorice root. Your skin will love you for it.