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Licorice: It is not Just Candy

Mother of 2 daughters and grandmother of 7, I strive daily to achieve an optimum level of health and happiness. Life is all about balance.

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Licorice is a Plant Root Long Used in Natural Healing

We generally find licorice in the candy section of our local department or grocery store. We eat it as a sweet snack in between meals and we hand it out with our Halloween treats so exactly why would it not be classified as a candy?

Used as a health aide for thousands of years previous natural licorice is actually a root that has been used as a medicinal for a very long time. This is a fact that many individuals may be completely unaware of. Licorice is a food product that many people don't recognize as being anything more than simply a delightful sweet treat.

The medical and scientific communities today know considerably more about Licorices health benefits and detriments than when it was first introduced for medicinal purposes hundreds of years ago. Today we most often find it used as a flavoring in food products.

It still makes its appearance in health products and is still purchased by some individuals strictly for this purpose. You have probably heard of licorice cough drops or tea. Yet its medicinal attributes and side effects still remain highly misunderstood by the vast majority of people who consume it.

The Licorice Plant - Glycyrrhiza Glabra

The Licorice Plant - Glycyrrhiza Glabra

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Translates From Greek to Mean Sweet Root

The Licorice plant or Glycyrrhiza glabra is a low growth bush perennial in nature that grows wild in select areas of Europe and Asia and was originally considered a weed. Most commercially grown product is exported from Greece, Turkey, China, and Asia.

An ingredient known as Glycyrrhiza found within the roots and underground stems of the plant is what accounts for its taste and sweetness. Glycrrhiza is about fifty times sweeter than sugar, its name comes from Ancient Greece and appropriately translates to mean Sweet Root.

Ingredients within the plants roots are used to make a popular black candy that we know, or refer to as licorice. The root is also commonly used as a sweetening or flavouring agent in a variety of todays commercial food products. It is often added to herb teas, soothing cough lozenges, cough syrups, and also found in a wide assortment of candy products.

Licorice root is also used as a filler within drug capsules and even as a mask to offset a drugs unpleasant taste. In the United Kingdom it is used as an emulsifier to create the foam in drink products and alcoholic beverages. Yet among the people who consume it many are completely unaware of its health benefits and detriments.

Do You Love it or Hate?

The Health Benefits Of Licorice

Licorice root or Glycrrhiza is primarily used as a treatment for inflammation of the stomach or for ailments of the upper respiratory tract.

It is used as an aide for constipation, gastritis, stomach ulcers, canker sores or mouth ulcers, and also for relief of menstrual cramping. As well it is frequently used to relieve symptoms of bronchitis or the common cold, and can be found in many over the counter cough syrups, and lozenges.

Studies are currently being conducted to see if Glycrrhiza could prove beneficial in the treatment of HIV and Genital Herpes. So far the results are showing positive results.

It is always best when looking into alternative health therapies to consult with your local doctor to insure that participating in that treatment will be of benefit to you. Always research and be aware of the medications, herbs and alternative therapies that you are considering undertaking. Most herbal and alternative treatments are not federally regulated and as such can prove harmful or even fatal if used incorrectly.

Red Licorice is not derived from plant based ingredients. It is indeed candy

Red Licorice is not derived from plant based ingredients. It is indeed candy

Red Licorice is Very Different from Black

It turns out that the red variety of this treat isn't a licorice product at all. It really is candy. It does not contain the potentially harmful effects that black licorice may contain because it is made from artificial flavorings of cherry, strawberry, or raspberry, rather than from the root of the glyrrhiza glabra plant. It is a true sweet candy treat made from sugars or syrups.

Take Note of the Amount You Consume

Potential Side Effects Associated with Over Consumption

Licorice is not without its negative health affects and most people are unaware of the ill effects that can occur from consuming this sweet treat on a regular basis.

Eating as little as fifty grams of black licorice candy per day for a two week period can raise a person's blood pressure dramatically. It can also cause potassium depletion, electrolyte disturbance, sodium or fluid retention, or effect PH levels within the blood. People should be very aware of the amount that they consume and the length of time that they consume it.

Glycyrrhizic acid is the compound within Licorice that is responsible for most of the negative attributes. Which is why a means has been devised to remove this ingredient from the root itself. This safer product is labeled as DGL or deglycyrrhizinated licorice.

As another means of avoiding the harmful effects of Glycrrhizic acid, the anise plant which has a similar flavor is now often used in food products in combination with or to replace its use.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Lorelei Cohen

Are You a Fan of Sweet Treats?

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2015:

I like the taste of liquorice but I don't really eat it often. However, knowing about this makes me appreciate it more.

Coreena Jolene on May 11, 2014:

I always stayed away from licorice thinking that it was just a huge bag full of sugar, but now that I know that there is at least a bit of goodness in these chewy treats, I just might grab a bag here and there. Thanks :)

crisbee on February 24, 2014:

I"m a big fan of Panda black licorice but am wondering about its ph level, as i"m supposed to be eating a ow-acid diet. Anybody know?

Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on January 29, 2014:

Licorice tea is a great one. Good to have when feeling a little run down.Not to much though.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2013:

I'm not a big fan of black licorice but love the red one!

LouisaDembul on April 03, 2013:

I like a really strong, black licorice. Didn't know it can raise your blood pressure, just what I need!

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on December 02, 2012:

@Anthony Altorenna: My brother is a big fan of the red licorice as well. It is the black licorice though that is the natural licorice source so good thing he doesn't go to crazy on it lol.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on December 02, 2012:

@miaponzo: I grew up using Fisherman's friend black licorice for sore throats and cough. Sometimes the old remedies truly are the best.

anonymous on November 15, 2012:

Yes, the black. There seems to be a shortage of it since the company that makes red vines pulled all there stock due to high amounts of lead ( who know where that came from) anyway it would be nice to see more available in store. Love the black licorice. It just makes me feel good and energized after eating it. Good for stress to chew a few vines ( I like to age it in the open bag for a few weeks so it gets chewy). Gotta love it!!!!!!!!!

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on September 17, 2012:

@squidoopets: I am presuming that you enjoy black licorice as it is made from the natural plant.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on September 17, 2012:

@Linda Pogue: I was in a candy store with my grandson yesterday looking at a bin filled with licorice and thinking how old fashioned a candy it really is. Candy back in the old days was made from more natural ingredients and black licorice I don't think has changed all that much over the years.

Linda Pogue from Missouri on September 10, 2012:

Love licorice. Good information! Blessings!

Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on August 09, 2012:

Big fan of licorice, naturally attracted to it for its benefits beyond being yummy :)

miaponzo on July 24, 2012:

I adore licorice, and as an herb, it is amazing and fantastic for the adrenal glands! :)

ForestBear LM on July 16, 2012:

Yes I'm a huge fan! Used to have it a lot as a kid but haven't had it for a long time though. Great lens, thank you for sharing

Sher Ritchie on July 13, 2012:

Yes - I love it. And some doctors are studying whether licorice can help cure/aleviate Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. CFS is sometimes associated with LOW blood pressure, which is why licorice can help. I love your lens, thanks for sharing!

microfarmproject on July 04, 2012:

I love licorice of any color. I did not know about the risk of elevated blood pressure, although I don't eat enough to be at risk. Thank you for the info.

Dan from CNY on May 25, 2012:

I love all varieties of licorice. :D

Michelle Hogan on May 11, 2012:

Beneficial or no, red is my choice.

anonymous on February 21, 2012:

Tried to bless this earlier and failed, I see its working now. I'm a fan of licorice, and a loyal fan of yours!

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on February 16, 2012:

This is very interesting and informative on the health benefits of licorice. I've grown the herb in the garden and when your rub the leaves, it gives off a wonderful fragrance (and it seems to ward off mosquitoes). I'm glad that red licorice doesn't raise blood pressure, or I'd be in big trouble!

James Jordan from Burbank, CA on February 08, 2012:

I love licorice! I wish I had some here right now!

anonymous on February 06, 2012:

I was just thinking of this article and finally realized it was one of yours of course! Returning with some angel dust for this great education on black licorice. The reason I was thinking about it was because my sister mentioned that she has been eating more of it lately and I reminded her of what you said about the high blood pressure concerns because she does have to watch that. I had forgotten about the problem it can cause with potassium.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on December 06, 2011:

@poutine: Well the red licorice is just candy as it is not true licorice but black licorice is indeed a plant root and comes with a whole host of good and bad properties with it just as all foods especially if eaten in excess.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on December 06, 2011:

@julieannbrady: Yes and it explains why as kids we had the natural licorice as our treats rather than the red licorice which came later.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on December 06, 2011:

@pawpaw911: Most people do not know that licorice is actually a root rather than just a sweet candy treat. It's always nice to know the facts on the foods that we eat - candy included.

pawpaw911 on December 02, 2011:

Very interesting. Didn't know some of this. Thanks.

julieannbrady on November 26, 2011:

You know, as a kid, I ate a lot of black licorice and enjoyed having a black tongue. Then grandma make anisette cookies ... so that meant no black tongues. Now, I love to have the strawberry licorice ... who knew all the health benefits, eh?

poutine on November 26, 2011:

Very educational lens. I always thought that licorice was "junk food".

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on November 20, 2011:

@miaponzo: Very true. Many teas advertised as licorice tea are actually anise flavored to avoid the health problems which can arise if licorice is over consumed. It is always best to check your list of ingredients on the products you purchase.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on November 20, 2011:

@TonyPayne: Licorice is very soothing on the throat. I like the fisherman friend or altoids black licorice when I am sick with a cold.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on November 20, 2011:

@Diana Wenzel: Most people do not think of licorice as a herb rather than a candy and that is where many problems with licorice occur. Licorice has been sold as a candy now for so very many years that we just presume it is a sweet candy treat.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on November 19, 2011:

I love licorice, but have removed it from my diet for health reasons. I learned so much of benefit here. Your facts about black licorice were very interesting. I was not aware of the origin or uses of black licorice. Thank you!

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on November 17, 2011:

We used to get long sticks of black licorice growing up, plus licorice allsorts. If you haven't tried it, and don't think of it as tasting like a stick of licorice, then you would be wrong. I'm taalking about Licorice Tea, which I see listed here. Both Stash and Yogi Licorice Teas are really good, especially as an afternoon or evening pick me up drink. It's definitely not thick black and sickly, far from it. Nicely done, think I will have to have a cup tomorrow.

miaponzo on November 15, 2011:

I adore licorice.. but it's important to clarify that a lot of licorice candy isn't really necessarily licorice at all.. but anise flavored. :) I love them both!!!! Also, just a word of warning to thoise people out there who suffer from high blood pressure.. real licorice can raise it more :) Blessed!!!

GabrielaFargasch on October 14, 2011:

It's funny, but I could never eat licorice! It's too 'da...n' hard! Lol Plus I always felt like it resembles plastic.... :)

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on October 05, 2011:

@anonymous: Thank you Tipi so glad that you stopped by. Licorice seems to be a candy that was very popular in the old days - perhaps because it was a natural product so one that our parents were partial to.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on October 05, 2011:

@LisaAuch1: What a nice tradition. I can remember the black licorice pipes from when I was a child.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on October 05, 2011:

@JenaleeMortensen: Lol nor did I really consider licorice to be anything but candy until I started doing the research for this article. What a surprise that was.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on October 05, 2011:

@CoolFoto: You just have to check if the black licorice has been modified to remove the Glycyrrhizic acid.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on October 05, 2011:

@ColorPetGifts: Licorice is low fat which is nice but the truly natural black licorice does come with other issues to consider.

ColorPetGifts on August 29, 2011:

I love licorice too - glad to hear it's guilt free :))

CoolFoto on August 24, 2011:

I have been eating a lot of black licorice daily for about 6 months as it relieves constipation. Had no idea of the bad effects. Thanks! and blessings from Travel angel.

JenaleeMortensen on August 19, 2011:

I like black licorice, but I didn't know about all the health benefits and the possible detriments if eating too much. Thank you for this informative lens.

Lisa Auch from Scotland on August 01, 2011:

I was addicted to the lovely sweet when I was pregnant (which helped with the constipation!...lol) and every year on HER birthday my daughter always buys me a packet of Licorice....(well my hubby does!...)

anonymous on July 30, 2011:

Yup, I sure do remember those black licorice pipes, what fun to see them again. My favorite licorice is the Panda. I wasn't aware that black licorice had health benefits of detriments, well done!

Delia on July 26, 2011:

Great lens! I love licorice! but worry about the sugar content...I want to try the tea, it sounds delicious...

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on June 23, 2011:

I used to love eating red licorice when I was a kid, but never cared for the black kind. Recently I read something about licorice interfering with calcium absorption. Darn, I'll have to stay away from it for the sake of my bones.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on June 17, 2011:

@norma-holt: Lol...I can hand out licorice as a snack as they fly by overhead. Lol...and best of wishes to you on this mighty fine day.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on June 17, 2011:

@anonymous: I had not noticed the shortage of black licorice till you mentioned it. This is probably because the red is not really natural licorice but imitation instead.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on June 17, 2011:

@howtocurecancer: Thank you so much for the blessing on my health benefits of licorice article. It always brightens up the day when an angel flutters by.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on June 17, 2011:

@MargoPArrowsmith: Exactly. Especially with herbs and roots which is the category where licorice falls into.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on June 17, 2011:

@Sylvestermouse: The licorice tea is very soothing on the throat. I like the fisherman friend cough drops and they are also licorice for the throat.

Lorelei Cohen (author) from Canada on June 17, 2011:

@ZigZagPrinciple: Lol...yes it does come in handy being the only who will eat the licorice. Enjoy :)

ZigZagPrinciple on June 17, 2011:

I absolutely love black licorice! It's my favorite. My kids won't touch it, so it's a double bonus!!

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on June 09, 2011:

I have never liked the candy licorice and when my daughter gave me licorice tea for Mother's Day, I didn't think I would like it at all. I tried to be kind to her about the gift and I tried not to scowl :) She personally fixed my first cup of licorice tea for me and I loved it! When I had the flu, I actually found it very soothing. It was the only thing I could eat or drink while I was sick. Didn't know the reasons, but I certainly understood the results! I now pay the high price for licorice tea without blinking. It truly is one of those things that is worth the money.

MargoPArrowsmith on May 23, 2011:

So like everything, the key is to not overdo

howtocurecancer on April 28, 2011:

Blessed by a SquidAngel.

anonymous on April 15, 2011:

Growing up and even to this day, Licorice is still one of my favorites! I especially like the Black but it's becoming harder to find, the Red is still Good and very much enjoyable!!

norma-holt on April 01, 2011:

Great informative lens on this little known herb. Special blessing and featured on April fool's Day Blessings and all the angels woukd love somne of this as they swing past you today, Hugs,

ohcaroline on February 02, 2011:

Thank you for the important information about licorice. I rarely it; but it's good to know about the side effects.

teatree on February 02, 2011:

I love liquorice - particularly Bassets Liquorice Allsorts! I didn't realise liquorice had negative effects. Oh well, all the things I like seem to have negative effects.

MargoPArrowsmith on January 31, 2011:

Well, licorice is good for the stomach and tasty, but watch the corn syrup

sorana lm on January 17, 2011:

What a beautiful lens. I love licorice and I had no idea of the negative effects it has. I am a fan of green tea also and ... I do take a lot of time to play, usually my iPhone puzzle games (I'm addicted to them). Thanks.

ronpass lm on January 04, 2011:

Very informative lens - I love licorice. I have been aware of some of the benefits of licorice but your list is very complete. What I had wondered about was the bad effects. You have put me on the lookout for adverse effects and encouraged me to eat licorice in moderation. Thanks for such a well researched lens.

huvalbd on January 01, 2011:

I am very glad to see you included plenty of detail about both the good and bad sides of licorice. My partner used to take DGL lozenges to combat stomach pain. It was very effective, but required cutting out grapefruit juice. When grapefruit or its juice is consumed within 24 hours of licorice, the combination can lead to dangerous amounts of potassium depletion. We love what DGL does, but we regard it like a medicine (it's certainly strong enough) and try to avoid such interactions.

Shorebirdie from San Diego, CA on May 07, 2009:

Hi! It's nice to see someone talking about licorice in a medicinal way. I use it for my adrenal problem. I never get high blood pressure or any side effects while taking it, but when I stop, I have a hard time with adrenal function. So, I have to be careful about taking it for too long.

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