Back in my addicted-to-sugar days, I ate a lot of licorice. Not the red kind. That's just gross candy, its got nothing to do with licorice! No, I'm talking the real stuff. Black. Soft. Oh, and sweet...not the weird European, salty kind. That stuff is just nasty!
While indulging my sweet tooth, I don't think I ever wondered what licorice actually is. I knew it was a botanical thing, but not much beyond that.
As it turns out, this yummy (in my opinion, anyways, I know there are lots of haters out there) plant has a whole heck of a lot of health benefits. Not in candy form, unfortunately, but in its natural form.
Licorice root is an anti-inflammatory. It is often used to treat stomach ulcers, heartburn and chronic gastritis. It is also used to treat a sore through, coughs, and both bacterial and viral infections. Some people use licorice for sore throat, bronchitis, cough, and infections caused by bacteria or viruses. Licorice also controls cortisol production and helps to regulate the body's stress response.
I discovered all this recently when I was telling the naturopath at work about how my blood pressure is too low for me to donate blood. She said she often works with athletes with crazy low blood pressure and recommends they take licorice. Not just because it can elevate blood pressure a bit and control cortisol, but also for its anti-inflammatory properties. She said it really, "puts the wind in your sails." I was completely intrigued since I wake up in the morning very fuzzy and light headed. She told me to get the concentrated syrup, which she had at the office (this brand), and use 1/4 tsp made into tea each morning. I love the taste, so why the heck not?
You know I'm always skeptical of remedies if there isn't evidence they work, but she was so enthusiastic about its efficacy, I immediately went out to buy some. Unfortunately, I went to 5 different health food stores, including Whole Foods, and none of them even had heard of the syrup. They all sold the tea and tinctures but no syrup.
Finally, I found it on Amazon. Good ol’ Amazon!
Well, I have to tell you, I did just as the naturopath said and boy did the stuff ever put wind in my sails. I felt like I had a whole lot more oomph for my spinning class Sunday morning. Not in a jittery, anxious way like caffeine makes you feel, just in a, I-could-climb-a-mountain good way. And it tastes awesome…at least if, like me, you love the taste of black licorice!
Who needs pre-workout drinks or creatine powders, this stuff is power in the bottle.
Please do not take licorice before speaking with a health professional. It is not appropriate for everyone. Licorice interacts with many prescription medicines and should not be taken while pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider if you plan to start using licorice.