Licorice Root for Respiratory Health
It often comes as a surprise to many people when they discover a wonderful remedy for an ailment they have been struggling with is available to them in their grocery store.
As the cold season deepens, so do the frequency of those falling ill. Respiratory problems are abounding. While cough syrup and decongestants are sometimes useful in combating the symptoms that following, perhaps nothing could beat a nice, hot cup of tea. Especially when that tea contains licorice root.
Licorice root, used for centuries as a sweetener, has also been used for its medicinal properties for almost as long. Among its medicinal properties are its actions as a demulcent (soothes/protect damaged or inflamed tissue) and an expectorant (assists in the expelling of old, thick mucus from the throat and lungs – same as Robitussin or Mucinex). In traditional chinese medicine licorice or Gan Cao has been used for thousands of years for all kinds of lung conditions. Traditional uses also indicate use for abdominal and leg spasms, sore throat and skin sores.
Straight licorice root teas are often available at health food stores or in the organic sections of your grocery store; however, it is a widely used ingredient in many of the teas that are produced by major distributors, such as Tazo (their Wild Sweet Orange tea is amazing and is available at your local Safeway).
As with any herb, just as with any medication, using in moderation always yields the best results while minimizing any potential of adverse effects. While the amount of licorice root that is used in many of the commercially available teas (such as Tazo’s) is slight, pure licorice root tea can have some side effects if it is overused (in large amounts it can raise blood pressure and lower potassium levels). Because of this people with hypertension should consult with their doctor before using licorice as a supplement.
All in all, as an asthma sufferer, I can attest that this herb has provided tremendous benefit to me throughout the years whenever my breathing has become problematic. The next time you find yourself walking down the tea and coffee aisle, check out the teas and look at their ingredients. If you find one that contains licorice root, keep it on hand and give it a try the next time you find yourself with a cold… you won’t be disappointed.