How Licorice Fights Tooth Decay, Inflammation and Much More
If you are looking for a sweet treat that may actually do more good than harm in terms of your oral hygiene, then look no further than licorice. A new study suggests licorice may benefit your teeth by reducing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, before you rush off to your local store, you should be aware that the licorice found in most candy is not licorice at all but is obtained from anise oil. Read on to find out how to use licorice root as natural remedy for tooth decay and to many other ailments.
What is Real Licorice
Real licorice is produced from the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant, which is native to India, some areas of Asia, and Europe. It has been part of traditional medicine for centuries. Traditional healers used licorice to soothe sore throats and for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Licorice is also one of my 9 herbs and spices for joint pain.
This deliciously sweet, uniquely flavored root has been the focus of numerous scientific studies over the past few decades, but a new study has scientists very excited about the possibility of using licorice root to help fight tooth decay and gum disease.
How does Licorice Fight Tooth Decay?
Your mouth is home to various types of bacteria. Although some of these bacteria may be helpful in limited quantities, these bacteria are also responsible for the majority of your tooth decay and gum disease.
Bacteria called streptococcus mutans live on sugar. These bacteria metabolize the sugars in your mouth and it produces malic acid as a waste product. Malic acid is responsible for the plaque that builds up on your teeth and this ultimately leads to tooth decay, gum disease, and cavities.
Bacteria protect themselves from harm by producing a type of biofilm that forms a protective layer around the bacteria. One of the ways to eliminate the bacteria is to eliminate this protective layer.
Licorice contains two active ingredients called licoricidin and licorisoflavan. These active ingredients are believed to help eliminate the enzyme that allows bacteria to create these protective layers.
Research on Licorice and Tooth Decay
In a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh, researchers discovered that bacteria use an enzyme called Sortase A to produce their protective biofilm layer. The researchers were able to identify how the active ingredients in licorice may prevent this enzyme from functioning properly, therefore effectively interrupting the biofilm formation process. Without their protective layer the bacteria are not able to attach to the teeth and they are left vulnerable, thus helping to decrease the amount of tooth decay and plaque that can form.
Research has also shown that the active ingredients in licorice may prevent the growth of the bacteria that are responsible for periodontitis. Periodontitis can have a devastating effect on oral health by destroying the bone, gums, and tissue in the mouth. I’ve previously mentioned why periodontitis is called the silent killer and how you can naturally treat it.
How to Use Licorice for Tooth Decay
A soft layer of bark covers the licorice root. If you do have access to fresh licorice root, then select a suitable sized piece of root. You will need to clean the root properly and then chew on one end until the root fibers will come loose and resemble bristles.
If you cannot get a licorice root, you can also use coconut oil as it can also inhibit the growth of the bacteria – find more information in my post on why you should start using coconut oil as a toothpaste.
Other Health Benefits of Licorice
Soothes sore throat and relieves coughing
Licorice has been used for centuries for its potential ability to soothe sore throat and to help alleviate coughs and colds. Manuscripts dating back to 360 AD in Egypt mention the expectorant and soothing qualities of licorice and many of the early cough medications of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries used licorice as a flavoring. In one study done on post-operative patients who were smokers, researchers found that licorice was effective in suppressing coughing and soothing the throats of the patients.
If you are struggling with a sore throat or cough, then prepare a tea from licorice root, or add a few drops of licorice extract to some honey. Honey also has antibacterial properties and the two taken together may help to soothe your sore throat and relieve your cough. You can also follow the instruction in my post on how to make your own syrup to relieve sore throat and cough.
Inflammation is the underlying cause of many of the modern lifestyle diseases we struggle with these days. Research suggests that licorice may be highly effective in reducing inflammation.
In a review published in the Natural Product Communications Journal, researchers studied the effects of various different herbal extracts on inflammation and concluded that licorice may be more effective at suppressing inflammation than ibuprofen.
To take advantage of licorice to fight inflammation, use a good quality licorice extract or create a tea using licorice root.
If you suffer from pain and inflammation, you can also use these 15 natural alternatives to ibuprofen.
Dyspepsia is used to describe the symptoms of indigestion, which include heartburn, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and nausea. In a study on patients suffering from dyspepsia, a preparation made from licorice was shown to be effective in managing the symptoms of dyspepsia.
A tea of licorice can be prepared using fresh licorice root or you can take a teaspoon or two of dried licorice root and allow it to steep to create a tea to help to relieve dyspepsia. You can also use other natural treatments for heartburn and if you want to improve your digestion, you can prepare a DIY digestive enzyme detox smoothie.
Helps you burn fat
If you are trying to lose weight, then licorice may offer some benefits in terms of weight loss.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one study of licorice that included fifteen patients showed that the consumption of 3.5 g of licorice daily helped to reduce body fat mass. Another study found that consuming 900 mg of licorice flavonoid oil daily decreased body fat, body mass, and LDL cholesterol levels.
You can also consume one daily teaspoon of cumin accelerate your weight loss and you can also consume these 10 spices and herbs that will help you lose weight.
Licorice for cold sores and Herpes
Licorice has some natural antiviral properties. Traditionally licorice was used to help treat and alleviate cold sores. In a study on Herpes Simplex, the virus responsible for cold sores, licorice was thought to be beneficial as an antiviral medication, but further studies are necessary.
If you want to take advantage of the antiviral properties of licorice, then you need to prepare a decoction of licorice by boiling one part of root to twenty parts of water and then allow it to simmer for thirty minutes to five hours. The longer you allow the decoction to simmer, the stronger the decoction will be.
Once the decoction has cooled, use gauze or a cotton ball to dab the mixture onto the affected area. The mixture makes a great toner as well. The antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities of licorice can help to clean the face before applying your moisturizer.
Alternatively you can also use tea tree oil: put a drop or two of oil onto a cotton swab and apply directly onto the cold sore. Re-apply two to three times a day.
Side Effects and Warning for Licorice Use
Like most herbs and herbal extracts, licorice consumed as part of your diet or as an ingredient in food is likely safe, however, if you are using licorice in the form of a tea, decoction, or extract then you need to limit the amount of licorice you use and the length of time that you use it for.
The side effects associated with over consumption of licorice include a reduction in potassium levels, high blood pressure, paralysis, and brain damage.
If you suffer from kidney disease, heart disease, or high blood pressure then you should consult your physician before including medicinal licorice in your general health regimen.
Pregnant women should not take licorice for medicinal purposes.
Read my other related posts:
How to Heal Cavities and Tooth Decay Naturally
How to Treat Gum Infection (Gingivitis) Naturally
How Cashew Nut Can Eliminate Tooth Decay, Acne, Tuberculosis and Pneumonia
Homemade Natural Antiseptic Toothpastes With Only 2 Ingredients