Natural health: The benefits of liquorice root tea

I have recently been given a bag of liquorice root tea by a friend, and I was wondering what benefits it has. Are there any risks to taking liquorice tea? I don’t take any medications and haven’t any problems with my health in general.

Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a valuable herbal remedy, often recommended for adrenal exhaustion (it provides natural cortisone) and muscular fatigue. Its primary characteristics are demulcent (soothing — particularly where inflammation and damage to tissues are present) and expectorant (expels mucous).

Liquorice is a valuable remedy for respiratory ailments, particularly coughs and colds. It works by helping to shift excess mucous, and is also a natural anti-inflammatory. The other well-known action of liquorice is as a gentle laxative. It soothes the intestinal tract and can be useful where ulceration is an issue.

Other nutrients found in liquorice root include vitamin E, phosphorus, the B vitamins, manganese, iodine, chromium, and zinc. As the botanical name suggests, liquorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is responsible for its slightly sweet taste.

Glycyrrhizin can magnify the effects of corticosteroid medications, decrease the metabolism rate of blood thinning medications, and disturb the uptake of oestrogen/progesterone-based preparations. Liquorice root as a long-term therapeutic herbal treatment is not recommended for individuals who suffer from high blood pressure, water retention, anaemia, and should not be taken while pregnant. The best way to prepare liquorice root tea is to use a generous teaspoon per cup of water and simmer on the stove for two to three minutes.

My aunt has just been struck with a condition called Bell’s palsy. It looks similar to a stroke, with one side of her face completely paralysed. The doctor seems to think there is nothing to be done and that it may go away without treatment. Please help.

Bell’s palsy is a condition where the muscles controlling the expression on one side of the face are paralysed, usually as a result of nerve trauma, infection, or, in rare cases, a tumour pressing on the nerve. Your aunt’s doctor has given good advice, in that this condition is usually temporary and will often right itself within two months of first occurring.

It is important to note, and the doctor will no doubt have mentioned this, that aspirin is to be avoided as it creates by-products that are corrosive to the outer protective layer of nerves (myelin sheath) and will make matters worse. While this is largely a wait-and-see situation, there are a number of things that you can do to support nerve repair and health. A diet high in acid-forming foods is thought to trigger inflammation and cause damage to the myelin sheath, so it is crucial your aunt avoids highly-processed foods, opting instead for a wholefoods-based diet.

Healthy fats are essential to brain and nerve functioning, so she should ensure that she is getting plenty of these valuable nutrients in the way of cold-water fish, nuts, seeds, coconut oil. If none of these foods are to your aunt’s liking, then there are plenty of great essential fatty acid supplements options available. The B vitamins, best taken together as a B-complex supplement, are worth considering since they play a significant role in the health and function of the nervous system. Magnesium is involved in muscle impulse transmission and the activity of nerve cells — your aunt should take 250mg daily. Calcium (500mg a day) is also important for healthy nerve functioning and muscle contraction. There are a number of herbs which can assist in the healing process too — lavender, valerian, catnip, skullcap, passionflower, vervain, and chamomile in particular. In the unlikely case that your aunt has not recovered from the Bell’s palsy symptoms in a year’s time, she may be referred to a specialist who can perform a graft using a healthy nerve for the paralysed muscle.


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