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Licorice-medical uses

Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra; (Leguminosae)


The plants are graceful, with light, spreading, pinnate foliage, presenting almost a feathery appearance from a distance. The leaflets hang down during the night on each side of the midrib, though they do not meet beneath it. From the axils of the leaves spring racemes or spikes of papilonaceous, small pale-blue, violent, yellowish white or purplish flowers, followed by small pods which somewhat resemble a part grown pea pod in form.

The root system, as in so many Leguminosae, is double, the one part consisting of a vertical or tap root, often with several branches penetrating to a depth of three or four feet, the other of horizontal rhizomes or stolons thrown off from the root below the surface of the ground, which attain a length of many feet. These runners are furnished with leaf buds and throw up stems in their second year. The perennial downward-running roots as well as the long horizontal stolons are equally preserved for use (Gri:488).

This plant has the capacity as the others in its family to fix nitrogen in the soil, thus accounting in part for its nourishing capabilities, also assuring that the propagation of the plant will not deplete the ground.

Dr. Christopher often lamented that in recent times, Licorice has often been laughed at or just ignored. In fact, he said, government officials thought it could be dangerous, so they cleared all the Licorice off their herb shop shelves to make an inspection of it. Of course, they found it innocuous, so they had to bring it back again!

Early in his practice, Dr. Christopher used the herb for sleeping sickness. He also said that it is good for sleepiness in less drastic cases. His wife often told him that he should use his flight time--of which he had a great deal, as he had more than one lecture a week in different cities in the U.S. and in the world--for sleeping, but the Doctor found it impossible to go to sleep on an airplane. His wife suggested that he should pretend that he was in church! He told that as a joke, of course, but suggested that if people do get drowsy in church, they should drink a cup of Licorice tea before going. It has properties to keep you wide awake. People who travel by car often prepare several quarts of the tea to drink as they make cross-country trips. Some women in Arizona, working on a night-shift in a Motorola radio factory, refused to drink coffee to keep them awake because their religion--Mormon--did not permit them to drink it. They began to take No-Doz tablets, but found themselves nervous and jittery. Dr. Christopher suggested Licorice root capsules instead of the caffeine tablets. The result was so positive that some of their co-workers began to do the same, as they saw that Licorice could keep them going without the harmful side effects. One of Dr. Christopher's students prepared a combination tincture of peppermint and Licorice root for an opera singer who was losing her voice due to laryngitis. She regained her voice in a day's time and was able to practice and perform as required. The student called the formula, “Opera Throat Formula”, a simple but very effective combination.

Dr. Christopher recommended a cough syrup combination using Licorice. He prepared this for a man whose baby was suffering from cough; early one morning Dr. Christopher got a call from the man who was so angry he was ready to throttle him! The man had just finished redecorating the baby's bed room and had set the bottle of syrup on a shelf. This was before Dr. Christopher had learned to use pure vegetable glycerine to keep his formulas fresh; the bottle of black Licorice syrup exploded and sprayed black syrup all over the newly-decorated room. The man had to repaper and paint the entire thing! However, here is the formula: Make a honey syrup by covering diced onion with honey. Add to this one ounce of Licorice powder. Heat very low or double-boiler for four hours. Strain it and add 1/4 part vegetable glycerine, which enhances its keeping powers but also adds healing properties of its own. Take it by the spoonful as needed.

Licorice root has been used since ancient times. Archaeologists have found great quantities of Licorice stored in the tomb of King Tut, among the fabulous gold, jewelry and art treasures the Pharaoh took with him in his journey to the next world. It was extremely well-preserved, due partly to the fact, no doubt, of the shape of the pyramid, which is known to have unusual preservation qualities. King Tut's tomb is three thousand years old! Other Egyptian pyramids also contained the root. The Egyptians make a sweet drink from Licorice called mai sus the herb stored there would allow the Pharaohs to make this drink in the next world. Licorice root was introduced into Egypt for medicine by one of Eckankar's ancient masters, Gopal Das. Eckankar is the ancient science of soul travel (Twi:).

In other areas of the ancient world, the Brahmans of India, the Hindus, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Chinese all used Licorice (Luc: Nature's:90). The ancient Hindus believed it would increase sexual vigor when prepared as a beverage with milk and sugar (j~j~.). The use of the herb was taught to the Greeks by the Scythians; Theophrastus called it Scythian root, writing in the third century B.C. The Scythians were able to go twelve days without drinking water because they chewed on Licorice root and ate mare's cheese. He said that it grew in the neighborhood of the Sea of Azof and was good for coughs and all pectoral diseases (ShoA:223). Dioscorides named the plant Glvrrhiza (Greek, glukos, for sweet, and riza a root); and alabra refers to the smooth pod-like shape of the fruit of this plant (Tyler:69). Two Roman writers, Celsus and Scribonius Largus mentioned Licorice as a radix dulcis, a sweet root. It was recommended by Pliny in about 80 A.D. to be used to clear the voice and to alleviate thirst and hunger. Dioscorides, an herbal physician who travelled with the army of Alexander the Great, told the troops to carry and chew Licorice root in order to allay their thirst when water was scarce during their long marches, especially during their campaigns in the Middle East. He also said that it was good for stomach trouble, throat trouble, liver and kidney disorders, etc.

In 400 B.C. Hippocrates wrote of the uses of Licorice for prevention of thirst in dropsy and diabetes.

The plant is often found under the name Liquiritia officinalis which is derived from the English name Liquorice (Lycorys in the thirteenth century). This is a corruption of Glycyrrhiza, as shown in the transitional form, Gliquiricia. The Italian name for the plant, Re2olizia, the German Lacrisse or Lakriz, the Welsh Lacris and the French Reglisse have the same origin (Gri:487).

Gerard, at the end of the sixteenth century, wrote that the “plants do grow in sundry places of Germany wilde, and in France and Spaine, but they are planted in garden of England, whereof I have plenty in my garden: the poore people of the north parts of England do manure it with great diligence, whereby they obtain great plenty thereof'. During the Middle Ages, Licorice was often taken to alleviate the bad effects of highly spiced and overcooked food, fat, and often-contaminated meats, as refrigeration was impossible and most meats were preserved by salting and by packing with aromatic herbs and spices.

Licorice extract was used as early as the times of Dioscorides and was in use in Germany during the Middle Ages. In 1264, Licorice extract is charged in the Wardrobe Accounts of Henry IV. Its price during that time was said to be equal to that of “grains of paradise”, whatever those are! It was one of the articles paying duty to aid in the repairing of London Bridge in the reign of Edward I, 1305. The plant is described as being cultivated in Italy by a Piero de Cresenzi of Bologna during the thirteenth century. Saladinus, who wrote about the middle of the fifteenth century, names it among the wares kept by the Italian apothecaries and it is enumerated in a list of drugs of the City of Frankfurt, written about the year 1450 (Gri:487). Mattioli wrote in 1574 that the juice, in the form of pastilles, was brought every year from Apulia. The drug was imported into England from earliest times, though it was cultivated on a small scale for a very long time in that country.

From Turner's Herbal we learn that Licorice was grown in England in 1562, and Stow says “that planting and growing of licorish began about the first year of Queen Elizabeth (1558)” (Ibid.). The tradition relates that the Black Friars introduced it into Yorkshire when they settled there during the early days of the sixteenth century, and it has remained in cultivation in that district every since. The subsequent inhabitants of this castle have carried on the tradition even to this day, although the amount of Licorice is much reduced because of the difficulty of the labor required and the ease of obtaining the imported roots. The Pontefract Castle only yields about one half of what it used to; the Licorice is said to be very sweet, more so than the imported roots. The dark, processed confections known in England as Pontefract cakes are sold even today as lozenges that are stamped with a picture of the castle. These cakes were once seen in almost every English pharmacy, although they are less available now.

In France, Napoleon habitually chewed Licorice root, which practice eventually blackened his teeth.

John Parkinson grew Licorice in his Holborn garden, and John Josselyn of Boston in the sixteenth century lists Licorice among the “precious herbs” which had been brought over from England to white settlers, who included it in their medicinal pharmacopeias (Luc: Nature's:90). Josselyn used to brew a beer for the Indians, when they had bad colds, which was strongly flavored with elecampane, Licorice, aniseed, sassafras and fennel. The American Indians began to use the herb themselves after learning about it from the white folk--a turnabout of the usual process.

In 1804, early American explorers commented that “the Licorice of this country does not differ from that common to the United States. It here delights in a deep, loose, sandy soil, and grows very large and abundantly. It is prepared by roasting in the embers, and pounding it slightly with a small stick, in order to separate the strong ligament in the center of the root, which is then thrown away, and the rest chewed and swallowed. In this way it has an agreeable flavor, not unlike that of the sweet potato” (Meriweather Lewis, The Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806).

During the 1800's Culpepper included information about Licorice in his famous herbal. He wrote: “Liquorice root, boiled in water with some Maiden-hair and Figs, makes a good drink for those who have a dry cough or hoarseness, wheezing or shortness of breath.. .It is also a cleansing agent, and at the same time softening and soothing, and therefore balsamic”. He also described the common method of preparation of the extract, by boiling the root, straining, and reducing the decoction, but mentioned that if one squeezes the root between two rollers to get the juice, it is “sweeter and of a much more agreeable taste than the root itself'.

Licorice is native from southern Europe to Pakistan and northern India. It has been cultivated in Belgium, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and in recent years, has been commercially grown in northern India. It has been grown with some commercial success in the United States.

In western Europe, the commercial plant is cultivated, but the Russian and Persian plants have been obtained from wild growth, which might indicate a more valuable medicine.

Licorice has been official in almost all pharmacopeias, which differ as to which varieties are recognized, the botanical name, and whether the accepted root be peeled or unpeeled. The British Pharmacopeia requires that they be peeled, but most others require unpeeled.

In the 17th Edition of the U.S. Dispensatory, Licorice was said to be “a useful demulcent, much employed in cough mixtures, and frequently added to infusions or decoctions in order to cover the taste or obtund the acrimony of the principle medicine. A piece of it held in the mouth and allowed to dissolve slowly is often found to allay cough by sheathing the irritated membrane”.

The Doctrine of Signatures holds that the root suggests, to the herbalist, its use as a blood remedy (Harris: 121).

Licorice root contains one of the sweetest substances in nature, glycyrrhiza or glycyrrhizic acid; it is fifty times sweeter than sugar. Interestingly, while other sweet substances increase the thirst, this substance decreases the thirst. It is a safe sweetener for diabetics and hypoglycemics to use. This sweetener makes the taste of Licorice one of the most pleasant to take, if you happen to like the flavor. If you do not, it may be an abomination, according to herbalist Moore (Moore:97)! The herb is most commonly employed for colds, coughs and other pectoral problems. It will help in cases of flu, debility, bronchial congestion, and even the more severe forms of these kinds of ailments: pneumonia, pleurisy, and tuberculosis (Lev:Common:92). For colds and flu, you can combine Licorice with stimulating herbs, cayenne or ginger, to intensify the effect (Tie: 129). For sore throat and hoarseness, you might try smoking the root (Ibid.). It is an ingredient of many of the popular cough syrup s, or at least the old fashioned ones that did not contain strong inorganic drugs. It is used on the Continent in lozenges to be sucked slowly for sore throat and chest problems. The old-fashioned Smith Brothers cough drops used to contain Licorice. Various recipes are given for cough medicines, with different ingredients. Dr. Christopher provided another one: Combine one cup Licorice root with one-half cup flaxseed, and simmer in one quart of water until it is thick. Strain and add 1 teaspoonful lemon juice. This is an old English formula. Another more complicated formula calls for equal parts of Licorice, slippery elm, boneset, and flaxseed. These are simmered for twenty minutes in one quart of water and strained. Then add one pint molasses, and ½ pound yellow D sugar, stirring thoroughly, straining and bottle. However, unless you plan to refrigerate this combination, you will have to add one-fourth the quantity of syrup of vegetable glycerine, or you may have an explosion as Dr. Christopher described!

For use in sore throat and irritated bronchioles, Licorice is even more effective if combined with Horehound or Mullein (Moore:97). The other classic use for Licorice is as a mild but effective laxative. In Jamaica, Licorice is known as “lick weed”, and it is boiled as a tea and given as a laxative to both children and adults (Luc: Nature's:92). It is especially good for children and weak people, or for adults having stomach weakness who are unable to take stronger laxatives. It is valuable for people with hemorrhoids as the soft or fluid stools resulting from Licorice powder lessens the pain produced by normal movement of the bowels. As a laxative, it is best given at bedtime or on an empty stomach.

Licorice is known to have a healing effect on the stomach and digestive tract generally; it softens, soothes, lubricates and nourishes the entire intestinal tract. It will alleviate stomach and intestinal cramps (Lev:Common:92). It has been officially recognized for its use in gastric or duodenal ulcers, collectively known as peptic ulcer, which nearly always occurs in the pyloric region of the stomach or the first inch of the small intestine. The vagus nerve is involved in the stimulation of gastric secretion: excess stimulation results in hyper secretion of gastric juice rich in hydrochloric acid, thus producing conditions favorable to the formation of peptic ulcers. Antichohnergic drugs can block the excessive secretion of gastric hydrochloric acid. However, until 1965 there was no official drug available to assist in healing the ulcer once developed; rest in bed, no smoking and bland diets were the only forms of therapy. Now, however, two derivates of Licorice root can on the average reduce the size of an ulcer by 70 to 90% (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis:275). Healing occurs in patients who are not confined to bed, and many continue to work during the treatment. Some undesirable side effects do occur, notably edema and some cardiac problems in those who eat excessive Licorice--but the benefits outweigh the undesirable effects. We will speak more about these side effects in our section on recent findings on Licorice.

Chronic painful menstrual cramps can sometimes be helped by drinking at least two cups of Licorice tea a day for a week, beginning after the end of the menstrual cycle. If this helps, after a couple of months one could stop drinking the tea and still enjoy the improved cycle.

The root tea can be used for treating stomach ulcers instead of the extracted principles; this has always been Dr. Christopher's recommendation, to use the entire herb instead of some isolate. It is best taken before the time when the pain is predictable, making a standard infusion.

The root is particularly noted in treatment of female problems because it has a steroidal content, higher in the taproots, but only minute in the runners. This content is very small, but it can trigger higher levels of both estrogen and adrenocorticosteroid in cases of insufficiency (Moore:97). In 1958, Madame Pointent-Guillot discovered that the structure of glycorrhizine is known to include a triterpene glycyrrhetic acid, with flavone derivatives and a follicular-type of estrogen. It is used in the treatment of female infertility, for delayed and irregular menstruation, and might prove to be useful in the premenstrual syndrome (Lev:Common:92).

The steroidal content has also brought the herb into some prominence for healing and restoring the adrenal glands. About every five hours, the adrenals need some sort of nourishment in order to continue supplying strength to the body. If a meal or some other nourishment is not forthcoming, Licorice can supply the adrenals. The armies of Alexander the Great, mentioned above as carrying Licorice with them on their long marches for allaying thirst, also benefitted from this strengthening agent to give them stamina and endurance--a far cry from today's chocolate candy bar, Dr. Christopher noted, which is given to the poor G.I. in the military.

LaDean Griffin, in a very interesting article on Licorice, explained the use of Licorice to build the adrenal glands. She noted that we call adrenal exhaustion hypoglycemia in today's modern world. Since we are so stressed at our modern pace of life, the adrenal glands become exhausted easily and frequently. “In hypoglycemia, where sugar is taken to give a stimulating lift in the hope of overcoming (stress), the problem is compounded as sugar leaches the Vitamin B and calcium, causing more stress, losing more potassium and body tone. The insulin is raised to an unnatural high to take care of the sugar, somehow extending past its needs and afterwards dropping to a new low, causing a low blood sugar called insulin shock (overdose of insulin). Immediately we take sugar to lift us up again and a vicious cycle has begun. Having found the herbs that act like cortisone (cortin hormone), I feel it is important for me to make this known”. She then described how primitive people used various herbs, including Licorice, to build the endurance, and how the medical world extracted from the herbs the compound we call cortisone. When a person's adrenal glands become so exhausted that they simply do not function anymore, the condition is called Addison's disease, which is a terminal disease. It is characterized by blotchy pigment appearing suddenly on large parts of the body, intolerance to heat or cold, reduction in capacity for muscular work, weakness, inability to stand any stress or emotional excitement, whether positive or negative, sometimes nervous breakdown or even insanity, complete exhaustion, feeling that one is going to die, inability to digest food, and other similar symptoms. The synthetic cortisone is given to supply the need of the natural substance, but it produces complications, side effects and eventual disillusionment as it will not in any way heal the adrenals (Herbalist:1975:16).

Licorice is excellent to use in this condition, as it contains a cortisone-type substance which will help the body restore itself to the point where it will produce its own cortisone. Its sugar-like substance does not increase the demand for insulin in the body, thus giving strength without bringing on insulin shock. LaDean Griffin explains that she is certain that this works, because at a time when she thought she was making a great deal of personal progress, a sudden shock debilitated her so much that she developed Addison's Disease. She found that two capsules of Licorice each day would give her enough strength to begin healing, and to do the day's work. She needed to continue taking the herb, which is not addictive, she explained, no more than food is. You can stop taking the Licorice root without going into shock as you would if you suddenly stopped taking cortisone, she explained.

“When people who have been under severe stress, overworking the adrenals and becoming extremely nervous and irritable, begin to take Licorice, they think they have suddenly spiritually arrived. It is my opinion that many who suffer in mental institutions could be helped with this wonderful herb” (Ibid.).

Licorice root has been used by some to overcome the habit of smoking, although some people have taken too much Licorice in this connection. In Fads of an old Physician, Keith wrote, “Many years ago, when visiting in East Lothian, a Doctor told me he had found Licorice very useful in a way I had not known. Many farm servants who smoked strong tobacco could not look at breakfast until they had a smoke. This was always relieved by taking a bit of Licorice on getting up... “(Luc: Nature's:93). Another medical doctor reported that he was examining some young men to work in a bakery that would not allow smoking. The young men were very addicted to smoking and could not seem to give it up. The Licorice root seemed to allay the desire for smoking; the doctor suggested that our need to chew on something is a leftover from when we are babies and had to have something to suck on.

Licorice is said to be a blood cleanser and detoxifier with a beneficial effect upon the liver. It increases the flow of saliva when chewed or sucked.

The dried root can be given to teething babies to help bring the teeth through; the solid extract could be given them, but a vigorous chewer might give himself a purgative dose! It will alleviate worms in infants. Externally, the pulped leaves are softened in hot water and applied to aching ears, externally and inside as ear plugs. The dried, powdered root is used as a fine powder among the Arabs from drying up discharging parts of the skin, drying blister, and absorbing all kinds of watery fluid. It is also added to flaxseed to make a poultice for non-malignant tumors (Lev Common:92).

Because of the presence of adrenocortical-like steroids and estradiol and estrone, Licorice may be a little risky for drinking during pregnancy; it may alleviate menopausal symptoms, although it has been known to aggravate them, too (Moore:97).

In Chinese medicine, Licorice root is considered to be of great importance, being the correcting and harmonizing ingredient in a number of prescriptions. It stands next to Ginseng in importance, and like most celebrated Chinese drugs, it is credited with the property of rejuvenating those who take it for a long time (Shi: 196). It is used in most of the ways that it is used as described above. In addition, it is applied topically, mixed with honey, to burns, boils and other sores.

In Indian medicine, the standard uses are common. In addition, it is used in scorpion sting and poisoning (IMM;582).

Licorice root seems to enhance other herbs with which it is mixed. Often employed as a flavoring to mask the bad tastes in other medicines (the sweet agent is extremely effective as a mask), it also is found to make other herbs work better. Lucas reported that the following article appeared in Science Digest in 1950: A remedy sold at drug stores and used each month by thousands of women for so-called female trouble now turns out to have real estrogenic action. It owes this, at least in part, to the Licorice used to flavor the remedy (Luc: Nature's:94).

By far the most important non-medicinal use of the Licorice herb is in the preparations of candies. When the decoction is reduced to a thick mass, it is formed, often with the addition of molasses and wheat flour, into sweetmeats that also contain the medicinal qualities of the root. However, “the `Licorice' candies of commerce, those disgusting rubberoid flaccid strips of childhood found in any local store pushing sweets to the usual gaggle of after school sugar addicts, contain about as much actual Licorice as present-day marshmallows contain marshmallow root--i.e., none” (Moore:97).

Licorice also is used in brewing, to add thickness and blackness to porter and stout. The brewer of Guiness stout was always questioned as to what made his brew so calming and delicious, but he never until his later years gave out the answer, Licorice root.

Licorice is much used in tobacco trade as a moisture conditioning, flavoring and sweetening agent. After extracting the water soluble matter, the spent pulp is subjected to a second extraction with dilute caustic soda solution. This secondary extract is utilized as a foam stabilizer in the manufacture of farm fire extinguisher. The residual material is used as a fertilizer in mushroom culture. The waste root is now utilized for the manufacture of boards for making boxes. A recently discovered process makes the refuse into a chemical wood pulp that is pressed into a board that is said to have satisfactory resisting qualities and strength.

Good for sleeping sickness and sleepiness, for laryngitis, coughs, colds, to increase sexual vigor, for pectoral diseases, stomach trouble, throat trouble, liver and kidney disorders, indigestion, bronchial problems, as a laxative (mild enough for kids), gastric problems, menstrual cramps, adrenal glands, stress, nervousness and irritability, as a viral inhibitor, for Addison's disease, and for peptic ulcers.

Dr. Christopher stressed that we should not procrastinate in obtaining adequate Licorice root, as we import tons of it from the Middle East every years for commercial medications and the Licorice candy industry. He said that only the good Lord can say when a transportation strike will cripple the nation's economy and we will woefully bemoan the fact that we can no longer get this herb. In addition to the species that grows wild and can be collected (which might be better left to grow), we can grow the Licorice in our yards by obtaining starts from a nursery or perhaps by purchasing seed.

Licorice grows best on sandy soil near streams, usually not being found in the wild condition more than fifty yards from water. It will not flourish on clay and prefers the rich, fine soil of bottom lands in river valleys where there is an abundance of moisture during the growing period, but where the ground bakes hard during the hot, late summer months, when the dry heat is very favorable for the formation of the sweet constituents.

The plant succeeds most in a warm climate; not only can it not endure severe freezing, but cool weather interferes with the formation of its useful juice and renders it woody. It has been found that a climate particularly favorable to the production of the orange is favorable to that of Licorice (Gri:489).

The plant, incidentally, is a persistent weed in grounds where it is indigenous and is exceedingly difficult to eradicate. It is very healthy and robust and rarely subject to disease, at the same time successfully occupying the ground to the exclusion of other plants. For this reason, the continuation of the natural supply may be considered as assured, though it is possible to over-harvest it as it is other plants (Ibid.).

The soil must be cultivated to a depth of two or 2-1/2 feet to allow straight roots to develop. The root pieces, three or four inches in length, with eyes or pieces of the red under ground stems of the same length; are planted in March or April, 2 or 3 inches deep. Ideally, shoots (or canes) that form are cut down to soil level each November of the first two years; the third autumn the roots will be mature and can be lifted. However, damp winter climates do not normally allow for this unless the soil is rich and well-drained. Large polythene cloches will afford some protection if necessary, or the plants may be lifted and the more mature roots used, the pinkish fibrous ones being stored in a dry frost-free place and replanted the following spring. However, the best roots are always from those plants left to develop for three years without disturbance. Once the roots are lifted and scrubbed clean, dry them in the sun or in a warm cupboard, but not in direct heat. They can be cut into pieces and stored almost immediately.

The average yield for an acre is from four to five tons. The same ground yields a crop every three or four years, the fourth-year growth being the best. Earlier harvests are deficient in the sweet principles. It is also desirable to collect the roots of those plants which have never borne fruit since that exhausts the sweet substance of the sap.

In modern pharmaceutical practice, Licorice is utilized mainly in the form of extract, a dark-brown paste obtained by crushing or shredding the fresh roots, decocting under low steam pressure, and evaporating. It is formed into sticks or rolls for marketing.

The decoction can be run off and boiled slowly over direct heat until it forms a thick consistency; it is then formed into sticks and dried.

A syrup of Licorice is made by making a strong decoction and adding it to simple syrup. A pleasant tea is made by mixing Licorice with flaxseed, ginger, honey and lemon.

Although it is possible to mix other herbal ingredients with Licorice and to decoct, then reduce 4 until they are pills, we prefer to take disagreeable herbs by capsule and enjoy the Licorice in infusion. The children are always begging for Licorice tea, and we find it safe and agreeable to give to them. Indeed, Dr. Shook recommended that all children be given Licorice tea now and again.

G. glandulifera has a larger root and spiny pods. Its taste is sweet but contains some bitterness. It is sometimes used as a Licorice substitute.

G. echinata is the official German species. It is medicinal, although somewhat bitter.

G. lepidota is American Licorice. It is somewhat smaller but has similar medicinal properties to Licorice.

The chief property of Licorice is the saponin-like glycoside glycyrrhizin (Glycyrrhizic acid, occurring in amounts varying from five to twenty-two percent.) Licorice contains 20% starch, up to 6.5% glucose, asparagine, fat, resins, mannitol, bitter principles, and other constituents.

Much research has been done in the last thirty years on the constituents and effects of Licorice. While some important positive uses are being reported in medical literature, some unfortunate negative results have occurred from people ingesting too much concentrated Licorice extract for long periods.

First, on the positive side, the active constituent in Licorice, Glycyrrhizic acid, was found to be active against some viruses. Vaccinia, Herpes simplex type 1, Newcastle disease, vesicular stomatitis, and polio type one were all inhibited in various degrees when glycyrrhizic acid was introduced (“Glycyrrhizic acid inhibits virus growth and inactivates virus particles”, Pompei, et. al. Nature Vol. 281, 25 Oct.1979).

Starting in 1950, research was done which proved that Licorice extract contained cortisone-like materials that could be of help in Addison's Disease. In 1946 Revers proved that it could also be useful in the treatment of peptic ulcers. However, early in the research, it was noted that some of the cases developed edema and hypertension or cardiac asthma, or all of these.

In the treatment of Addison's Disease, about twenty percent of the patients did not respond to the Licorice treatment, although the remainder did (“Synergistic Action of Liquorice and Cortisone in Addison's and Simmond's Disease,” The Lancet, March 28,1953).

It was determined that ammonium glycyrrhizinate was the sodium-retaining principle of Licorice which caused the edema. It induced great retention of sodium, chloride, and water. It produced a mild increase of urinary potassium. It mildly inhibited endogenous production of ACTH as indicated by consistent decreases in the excretion of 1 7-ketosteroids. It decreased the concentrations of sodium and chloride in thermal sweat. It provoked no demonstrable effects upon organic metabolism (“Preparation of Glycyrrhizinic Acid,” Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, Jan. 1956).

Unfortunately, these responses to Licorice have had some dramatic effects. Dutch children and adults often take large amounts of Licorice candy and become hypertensive, with profound salt and water retention and edema formation. The blood pressure rises and the cardiac index shows an increase quite significant; in one study it was about 36 percent. It should be noticed, however, that Dutch Licorice contains quite a bit of salt in its preparation; it is not the sweet candy we know in America. Perhaps the combination of the salt and the candy worsens the situation (“Reversible Severe Hypertension due to Licorice Ingestion”, Medical Intelligence, June 20,1968, Vol.278, No.25, pp. 138 1-3).

The symptoms of this condition are generally the same as suffered by a 2-1/2 year old girl. After eating about 1/4 pound of Licorice sweets, she vomited and seemed slightly tired. The next day, she was unable to stand and fell several times. During the day she was drowsy, vomited six times, and when admitted to the hospital in the evening was conscious but ataxic and unable to sit up; there was slight muscular weakness but tendon reflexes were normal. Her blood pressure was high, but it returned to normal after several days, and the child's strength returned. Other cases report the same muscular weakness, even though there seems to be nothing organically wrong with the sufferer. Sometimes the person cannot lift his arms or move normally (“Transient hypertensive encephalopathy”, The Journal of Pediatrics, Vol.74, No.6, June, l969,pp. 963-4).

Another serious result of Licorice intoxication is the loss of body potassium, called hypokalemic alkalosis. A forty five year old housewife, striving to reduce, ate 30 to 40 grams of Licorice daily for nine months. She became lethargic and had flaccid weakness and hypoactive reflexes. The serum potassium was 1.6 milliequiv., and the chloride was 68 milliequiv. per liter. The urine was dark brown and contained myoglobin. After she was given potassium, she showed a marked improvement (Hypokalemic Myopathy, The New England Journal of Medicine, March 17, 1966, Vol.274 No. 11,p. 606).

Similar cases were reported in 1980 in the same journal. One particularly sad case was reported in 1952. A girl age 15 was given a course of streptomycin for tuberculous meningitis. Some of the medicine was flavored with Licorice which reduced the blood potassium significantly enough to turn the illness serious; the girl died (“Fatal Hypokalemic Alkalosis”, British Medical Journal, Feb. 16, 1952, p. 360-1).

What can we surmise from these negative effects of Licorice? We notice that in all cases, the patients took large, concentrated quantities of the herb, either in extract form, as in the candy, in chewing tobacco or concentrated amounts in medicines. We suggest that if a person takes Licorice wisely, not to excess, with other herbs and on the mucusless diet, that such poisoning should not happen. Dr. Christopher always cautioned people to be moderate and wise in their applications of herbs. Surely anyone who takes large amounts of any substance should be prepared for some negative reactions.

Changease, the combination to help women through the menopause, contains Licorice.

Panc Tea, the combination to heal the pancreas and deal with diabetes and hypoglycemia, contains Licorice.

Red Clover Combination, the cleansing preparation to cleanse the body from impurities, contains Licorice.

Herbal Cough contains Licorice root.

CSK Plus is used during weight loss.

Volume Three - Issue Three

LICORICE -- The Legendary Herb

We have used licorice for many years in our practice and still use it in our formulas on the market today. To assure the reader that this herb is not a new discovery, let me repeat statements found in other authors' works. The first is from Ethan Nebelkopf's book, Herbal Connection (Bi World Publishers).

"In the depths of King Tut's tomb (a pyramid, no less) were found sticks of dried licorice. To the Egyptians, the sweet-tasting licorice root was a cure-all in much the same manner in which the Chinese related to Ginseng.

"Licorice is particularly good for sore throats and coughs. It is extremely soothing to the mucous membranes of the digestive tract. It also has been used as a folk remedy to heal peptic ulcers because of its soothing demulcent properties. Another common use of licorice is an expectorant to bring forth and expel phlegm for minor respiratory problems."

"...three active chemical agents found in licorice, glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhizic acid and glycerrhitimic acid... have been proven effective through research in healing gastric ulcers. As previously mentioned, some research indicates that licorice extract contains powerful principles which can help restore normal adrenal functions in persons with Addison's disease and in people who suffer from adrenal exhaustion." (Herbal Connection pg. 67)

There has been a good deal of modern research on licorice, especially on the relationship between its active ingredients, glycyrrhizin, and cortisone, as well as the effect of glycyrrhizin on adrenal functions and arthritis.

Cold licorice tea is used in place of water in many European industries, especially in iron and steel mills, where workers must endure considerable heat.

Licorice has been used for centuries as a confection and because of its saponin content it is an effective soother of various internal pains. It is helpful for alleviating such ailments as inflamed stomachs, bronchitis, sore throat, coughs, irritation of the bowel and kidney, and indigestion. In Denmark, experiments have shown licorice to be very effective for treating duodenal and peptic ulcers. Southern Europeans drink large amounts of licorice water because they believe it to be a blood purifier.

The Chinese have used herbs for thousands of years and I would like to recite an item or two from Chinese Medicinal Herbs compiled by Li Shih-Chen, translated and researched by F. Porter Smith, M.D. and G. A. Stuart, M.D. and printed by Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

"Glycyrrhiza (Kantsao and Kuo-lao). This last name is applied to the plant on account of its great virtues as a remedy. The drug is very highly prized by the Chinese and enters into the composition of very many prescriptions. The most common species that supply the Chinese licorice root are Glycyrrhiza echinata and Glycyrrhiza glabra, both of which are found growing plentifully in Northern China. Quantities are also brought from Mongolia, especially from the region about Kokonor.

"In fact, the plant seems to grow extensively throughout the regions of Central Asia. The root is commonly sold in long pieces, dry, wrinkled, and red on the surface, and yellow, fibrous, and tough on the interior. The last is disagreeably sweet and slightly mucilaginous. It stands next to ginseng in importance of Chinese pharmacy, being the great corrective agent and harmonizing ingredient in a large number of recipes. Like most celebrated Chinese drugs, it is credited with the property of rejuvenating those who consume it for a long time. The roots, twigs, and efflorescence are used in medicine. It is used to allay thirst, feverishness, pain, cough and distress of breathing. It is especially prescribed for children, and is used in a large number of their maladies, but as it is usually exhibited in combination with other drugs, it can readily be understood why purely imaginary virtues should be ascribed to it. Locally it is applied, mixed with honey to burns, boils, and other sores. The properties ascribed to the twigs and flowers do not differ in any essential respect from those ascribed to the root."

Here are the thoughts and opinions of a few of the many other herbalists who vouch for licorice and not against it.
LICORICE ROOT -- A Legacy From The Ancients

Many of the herbs we use today have fascinating histories, some of which reach far back into the dark recesses of antiquity. Licorice is one such herb. The fact, legend, and lore of many herbs has been preserved only through oral tradition, writings, or the rerecording of the ancient history of herbs, especially during the Middle Ages when quite a number of books were written on the subject of herbal medicine. We have come across numerous references to licorice, a popular herb for the past three thousand years. It is our intention to present the most interesting information on licorice to you in this newsletter, along with our personal success with the honorable root.

Licorice is known by the scientific name Glycyrrhiza glabra. The word "licorice" is a popular simplification of two Greek words, glykys, meaning "sweet", and rhiza, meaning "root". The licorice root contains glycyrrhizic acid which is approximately 50 times sweeter than sugar. It is the root that is used for all practical purposes. This root penetrates deep into the fertile soil which contains nourishing minerals unobtainable by plants growing near the surface of the earth.

Licorice is a perennial herb belonging to the Legume family, Leguminosae. The legumes include peas, beans, alfalfa, and peanuts. The plants of this family have what is known as nitrogen-fixing bacteria on their roots. These minute forms of life are able to use nitrogen directly from the air. Licorice has a pale green, round stem which above the ground branches at the height of one foot into two smaller branches. The smaller branches are approximately ½ foot long and give nourishment to single leaves. The stems are erect and herbaceous. They arise from a thick rhizome known as the crown. The plant usually reaches a total height of about 4 to 5 feet.

The leaves are alternate and consist of from 4 to 7 pairs of dark green, ovate, blunt, smooth leaflets that are sticky on their underside. The flowers range in color from yellow-white to purplish-blue and are arranged in axillary racemes.

The roots which extend into the ground from a branching rhizome are called stolons. The stolons are slender, cylindrical, brown and wrinkled longitudinally on the outer surface and yellowish on the inside.

Licorice enjoys fertile, sandy or clay soil near a river or stream where enough water is available for the plant to flourish in the wild, or under cultivation where it can be irrigated when necessary.

(After U. S. Dispensatory, 1871)

Licorice root is native to Greece, Asia Minor, Spain, Southern Italy, Syria, Iraq, Caucasian and Transcaspian Russia and Northern China. We import most of our licorice from these countries. The amount of licorice grown in the United States is not enough to keep up our demands for the herb in commercial medicinal preparations and the candy industry.

Licorice root was cultivated in Italy as early as the 13th Century, AD, and in England as early as the 16th Century, AD Licorice is a valuable asset to industry. It is employed in pipe tobacco and snuff flavorings. Candy manufacturers have flavored confections for years with the licorice juice. The remaining fibrous residue after the essentials (the juices) have been extracted is used in fire extinguishers, in insulated mill board, and for mushroom compost.

Licorice root contains saponins. These are substances which produce bubbles when shaken with water. It is the saponins (detergent-like action) that loosen the phlegm in the respiratory tract, so that the body can expel the mucus. They also increase the body's utilization of calcium and silicon. Flavinoids substances which are responsible for the yellow color of the root as well as for the health of the arteries are also present in the root. Glycyrrhizin, a sweet white crystalline powder composed of the calcium and potassium salts of glycyrrhizic acid is one of the main constituents of the herb.

According to Dr. Shook, licorice root contain sugar, starch, gum, protein, fat, resin, asparagin (which contains 12½% nitrogen due to the nitrogen fixing bacteria on the nodules of the roots of a legumes), a trace of tannin in the outer bark of the root, and a volatile oil. The amount of glycyrrhizi in the extract varies from 5 to 24% and the amount of moisture varies from 8 to 17%.

Dr. Christopher's laboratory tests on a sample of licorice root reveals the chemical constituents to be as follows:

Moisture 4.7%
Protein 5.5%
Fat 0.8%
Fiber 19.7%
Ash 6.7%
Carbohydrate 39.2%
Calcium 0.67%
Phosphorus 0.39%
Potassium 0.66%
Sodium 0.09%
Iron 0.0006%

Traces of Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Chlorine, and Magnesium.
Some Calcium and Potassium is present as salts of glycerrhizic acid.
Additional components include glycyrrhizic acid, glycyrrhizine (7.1%), asparagine (3.3%), sugars, resins, starch (29.6%), gums, tannin (trace), glycerrhetinic acid, sodium salt of carbenoxolonic acid, glycyrrmarine, and glycerrhentic acid.


Licorice is an aperient (mild laxative), an expectorant tonic, alterative, demulcent, emmenagogue, emollient, pectoral, stimulant, sialagogue, anti-inflammatory agent, and nourishing herb.

Licorice is extremely soothing to the mucous membranes. It is unequalled in the treatment of coughs or inflammations of the respiratory tract. It lubricates, soothes, and heals inflamed, mucous-secreting tissues. The root is excellent as a stool softener or mild laxative especially for children because it does not cause gripping of the intestine as the other cathartic herbs are known to do. Its sweet, pleasant taste and mild action make licorice root a desirable laxative herb for children and delicate folks whose weakened bowel could not withstand the quick and drastic purge of the cathartic. In gastric or bowel irritations, licorice acts as an anti-flammatory substance. Licorice is recommended by many herbal sources for cases of hemorrhoids or an otherwise inflamed intestinal tract. There is herbal and medical evidence that licorice has been successfully used to heal gastric ulcers. We will go into this subject a little later.

Licorice is also administered for coughs and sore throats. In fact, much of the licorice we import here in the U.S. is included in commercial cough preparations. Remember the old Smith Brothers' cough drops? They came in a licorice flavor for many generations, but unfortunately contained sugar as well as the soothing licorice.

Some of the other medicinal uses for the herb are treatments of hoarseness, laryngitis, wheezing, labored breathing, almost all lung and chest disorders, bronchial conditions, bowel or urinary tract complaints, and skin inflammations (used externally as a wash). Licorice also exhibits a cortisone-like action and some female hormone-estrogenic activity.

Millspaugh (1892) considers licorice not as a medicine but as an adjunct to prescriptions. This is, in part, true, for licorice has frequently been added to a compound containing substances of a bitter nature to render it more palatable. We know, however, that licorice root is much more than just a sweetener.

Licorice has been reported to prevent thirst. According to the illustrious Dr. Shook, the thirst-allaying property does not exist in the sweet juice, but in the bitter principle that remains after the sweet juice is chewed out of the root. The bitter principle acts upon the salivary glands to remove thirst. Shook also points out that the above information is extremely important in dropsy cases where the patient may experience inordinate thirst.

Licorice can be administered as a tea, as powder in tablets or capsules, as a tincture, a syrup, or concentrated liquid extract. As mentioned previously, the washed and dried raw roots may be chewed as is. In fact, some of the roots that are more solid and will not splinter make excellent, natural "teething rings" or pacifiers for the baby.

Dr. Shook suggests a good basic formula for a decoction of licorice roots:

4 oz. licorice root (cut)
3 pints distilled water
4 oz. pure vegetable glycerine

Simmer the roots in water slowly for 20 minutes. Strain off the liquid. Simmer liquid again until the volume is reduced to three-fourths of a pint. Add 4 oz. pure vegetable glycerine and mix well. Cool the compound and bottle. Usually dark, tightly stoppered bottles are best. Store in a cool place.

The doses may vary from a tablespoon to a wineglass full, 3 or 4 times a day. Children may have a teaspoon to a tablespoon 3 or 4 times a day, depending upon their age.

It would be well to note that there are several types of glycerine on the market, all with the designation, " U.S.P., or United States Pharmaceutical (quality)." One is the pure vegetable variety, the only kind we recommend. Oftentimes it is sold as "Kosher." Others are made from animal or synthetic (mineral) sources. The last two are poison to the human system. Avoid them.

Archaeological evidence reveals that licorice roots were mentioned in some ancient Assyrian tablets dating from the third millennium before the present. In the old Egyptian pyramids, tombs of the pharaohs yielded licorice roots; large amounts of the root were found among the valuables in the tomb of King Tut (1345 BC). This practice of leaving licorice for the departing would guarantee that royalty would have plenty of their favorite drink, Mai sus, which is popular among Egyptians today. Paul Twitchell, in his book, Herbs The Magic Healers, (1971), states that licorice root was introduced into Egypt for medicine by one of Eckankar's ancient masters, Gopal Das. Eckankar is the ancient science of soul travel. Almost all of the ancient earthly civilizations knew of and used licorice root. Among the list: Ancient Hindus of India, Greece, Rome, Babylon, and the older cultures of Europe and Asia. The therapeutic value of the herb varied from expectorant to restorer of sexual vigor.

The Chinese associated the root with longevity and rejuvenation.

Dioscorides, an herbal physician who traveled with the army of Alexander the Great, and who wrote an herbal describing the medicinal value of over 500 plants, advised the troops to carry and chew licorice root in order to allay their thirst when water was scarce on their long marching campaigns. Here are a few quotes from Dioscorides:

"...grows much in Cappadocia and Pontus...roots...like those of Gentian somewhat bitter, sweetish, which are juiced as Lycium is...But ye juice is good for ye shapenesses of ye Arterie, but they must put it under ye tongue to let it melt. It is good likewise for ye burning of ye stomach & for ye griefs in ye throax & ye liver & ye scables vesicae, and kidney griefs. Briefs drank with Passum, & melted in ye mouth it is a quencher of thirst, and healer of wounds being anointed about, & being chewed it is good for ye stomach, & ye decoction of new roots is good for the same. But the dry root being beaten small is a fit sprinkling for ye Pterygia."

Licorice is mentioned by the Roman writers Oribasius and Marcellus in the fourth century.

Hippocrates, during the 5th century, BC, writes of the uses of licorice for prevention of thirst in dropsy and diabetes. Theophratus, known as "The Father of Botany" for his work on plants says that "The sweet Scythian root is good for asthma, dry cough, and all pectoral diseases." The Scythians were an ancient nomadic people who traveled on horseback in the steepes of Central Asia. Theophratus, a student of Plato and Aristotle reports that the Scythians were able to go as long as 12 days without water because they chewed on licorice root and ate mare's cheese.

Licorice root was essential to the Arabic alchemists of the Middle Ages.

The sweet root has been cultivated for centuries in England near Pontefract Castle beginning with the reign of Henry III. It was said to have been started by the Black Friars. The subsequent inhabitants of the castle have carried on the tradition to this day, although the garden has gone into neglect because of the heavy labor required to harvest the roots and the availability of imported licorice root. The Pontefract Castle only yields about one-half what it did in the old days. Pontefract licorice is said to be very sweet, more so than the European roots. The dark processed confections known in England as Pontefract cakes are sold to this very day. They are lozenges that are stamped with a picture of the castle. They were once seen in practically every chemist's shop in England.

Both Chaucer and Shakespeare mention licorice in their classes. Later English herbals refer to licorice quite often, including the well known herbalist of the 16th century, M. Gerard, and another of the 17th century, Nicolas Culpeper. Gerard states that licorice grew plentifully in the famous "Physic garden" in London.

Nineteenth century botanic physicians, both European and American, knew the virtues of the licorice root, and used it extensively in their practices. Licorice as a medicine was included in the early U.S. Pharmacopoeias and Materia Medicas, and still is today.

Modern textbooks on pharmacognosy usually mention the active principles of licorice as being useful in the treatment of ulcers. One text, interestingly enough, states that peptic ulcers could possibly arise from the "formation of adherent mucus on the gastric mucosa." These sources also mention that licorice is a mild expectorant, and its cortisone-like substance may prove helpful in the treatment of Addison's disease and arthritis. It is also customarily added to bitter laxative preparations, and used to coat pills.

During the second World War, a Dutch family physician by the name of F. E. Revers observed that his ulcer patients were recovering extremely rapidly and well. Upon further investigation into the causes of this phenomenon, he found that a local Netherlands pharmacist had supplied all of them with a compound that contained 40% powdered licorice root.

Revers then began to prescribe licorice for ulcers regularly, and then waited to see the results. Although the licorice helped cure the ulcers, the formula caused sodium retention, hypertension, and even cardiac asthma in 20% of his cases. These effects were eliminated by the reduction of the licorice extract dosage. He then concluded that licorice had a cortisone-like action which accelerated the healing of chronic gastric ulcers. The diet of the patients were not considered, especially in the light of the mucusless diet, and the subjects were probably on the standard ulcer patient diet.

During the middle ages licorice was often taken to counter-balance the effects of highly spiced and overcooked food, fat, and most probably contaminated meats and meat dishes. May we also mention here the still-prevalent Medieval custom of overeating as well as washing down the food with copious amounts of alcoholic beverages. The advent of inorganic drugs did much to retard the progress of the investigation and evolution of the contemporary natural healers such as licorice root. The rising medical profession would often overlook an old remedy in favor of a more "sophisticated" synthetic--they would not want to be found guilty of practicing "folk medicine."

There arose a controversy regarding the value of licorice, and as one authority put it, "once the experts--at least the medical ones, disagree in public--it is difficult for the truth to penetrate the haze of the battle." The issue of the cortisone-like action of licorice was taken up in several medical journal articles during the 1950's after Rever's original "discovery", but was dropped because of the above principle. We will summarize some of their findings here, however, for they supplement first hand, empirical evidence of the efficacy of licorice root in situations where the steroid-cortin substance was needed by the human body.

In The New England Journal of Medicine, March 29, 1951, there appeared an article by several Dutch M.D.s who carried Rever's research a few steps beyond the ulcer. The title of the article: "Extract of Licorice for the Treatment of Addison's Disease." Addision's disease is a dysfunction of the adrenal glands in some cases due to tuberculosis of the adrenals. In one instance, a patient's symptoms included weakness, loss of weight, lowered blood pressure, increase in blood nitrogen level, and a potassium level increase. The patient was given a dose of sodium chloride (which we consider inorganic and poison in that form, of course) and the symptoms remained basically unchanged. A treatment was started using DOCA (desoxycorticosterone acetate), but after 8 days, the patient displayed signs of DOCA overdosage. His weakness was replaced with a feeling of tightness in the chest in addition to migraine headaches and shortness of breath. His neck veins became swollen, his heart was enlarged, and other undesirable symptoms were present. The DOCA was reduced, the sodium chloride was administered again and after 6 days the patient was given a 25% solution of extract of licorice in water as an addition to the medication. After the licorice extract was added, the sodium-potassium balance of the patient became more stable. The DOCA was soon withdrawn and the licorice root extract was withdrawn, the biochemical disturbances reappeared in the patient. Oral licorice therapy was continued and the patient maintained his desirable mineral equilibrium. The conclusion of the clinical findings is that licorice extract contained a substance processing DOCA-like action that can be effective when administered orally.

Other patients were treated with licorice extract and the results were reported in original articles in medicinal journals such as the Journal of American Medical Association, Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine. In most of the articles which appeared during the early 1950's, it was agreed upon that licorice definitely had cortisone-like properties. The interesting facts are these, however. Many of the licorice extracts used in the experiments have been obtained by the method of boiling the roots or otherwise treating them with inorganic chemicals. The licorice used was often no longer in its wholesome, organic state. Patients in the tests were often given varying doses of sodium chloride or some other accompanying inorganic drugs. In many cases where licorice was blamed for hypertension, the licorice in question was licorice candy. One subject suffered adverse symptoms from eating about ½ pound of licorice candy daily for about 6 or 7 years. Some of the authors admit to the inconsistency of the "block licorice extract" which they imported for their research, and this would produce varying effects in some patients. Some of the experiments concluded that licorice is capable of producing water, sodium and chloride retention in normal individuals. Often the conductors of the experiments used the isolated active principle of licorice, glycyyrrhetic acid, instead of the herb in its wholesome state.

Most of the sodium retention was caused by the glycyrrhizic acid "purified from the crude licorice extract (boiling licorice extract) as an ammonium salt." Two to 5 mg. of this substance administered daily caused great sodium retention and mild potassium diuresis. We can thank the Good Lord that we are not afraid to use licorice in its wholesome state, as well as know the benefits of the mucusless diet and live foods. As the standard edition out of medical school, even the most meticulous M.D. is not trained very well in the field of diet and nutrition. Neither are most of the hospital dieticians. Add this to the devastating effects of inorganic substances (an idea which Dr. Shook made clear to a handful of dedicated physicians after World War II) and one could easily invalidate the data obtained from many of the so called scientific experiments. The important conclusion of most of the medical journal articles, however, is that licorice does exhibit cortisone-like activity and can nourish the adrenals if there is some healthy tissue remaining in these organs.

A substance known as carbenoxolone has been synthesized from the active principle of licorice, glycyrrhizin. This substance has been used by medical science to aid in the healing of gastric ulcers. The gastric ulcers are those that are in the stomach itself, and because carbenoxolone is absorbed by the stomach very quickly, the drug has not been successful in the treatment of duodenal ulcers, that is, those ulcers that that form in the proximal portion of the small intestine, the part of the intestine immediately following the stomach. To test the effects of carbenoxolone on duodenal ulcers, researchers have invented a gelatin capsule that would burst in the duodenum after 2½ or 3 hours instead of sooner in the stomach. Results on the duodenal ulcers are not yet conclusive. Interestingly enough, the carbenoxolone is not effective on gastric ulcers when given by hypodermic injection, although the cortisone-like effect is observed to have one third the potency of a similar dose of hydrocortisone. Thus we can see that the carbenoxolone has a local action on the ulcer and needs to come in direct contact with the sore. Given the ancient information that licorice was useful in stopping the pain of indigestion, one wonders why the old reliable wholesome licorice root tea, powder, or extract isn't more often used judiciously as a food supplement. This would prevent the body from breaking down and making it necessary for the lab to take over where the Lord left off.

Dr. Christopher H. Costello of Columbus, Ohio, and Dr. E. V. Lynn of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy reported the discovery of the female hormone activity of licorice in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, around the year 1950. There were of course, plans to isolate the estrogen from the plant instead of simply taking licorice root at its face value.

Centuries ago, Theophrastus wrote that licorice was mixed with honey and applied to wounds. Dr. Wm. A. R. Thomson expects that after the licorice-cortisone controversy subsides, the dermatologists will "discover" the usefulness of licorice for such skin disorders as psoriasis.

In addition to quenching thirst and appetite, licorice root has been an aid in reducing the desire to smoke tobacco and consume alcohol. Many early family doctors knew this fact. One physician treated several bakery workers in the neighborhood. They couldn't break their smoking habit very easily, so he gave them licorice sticks to chew upon. This aided them at work, where the boss would not permit smoking lest ashes fall into the bread dough. Their desire to smoke lessened and they eventually quit smoking.

Licorice has aided mankind during the past centuries and will continue to do so far into the future.

Most licorice roots are grown commercially. During 1971, we imported over 50 million pounds of licorice root and about 25 million pounds of licorice extract to the United States. Roots can be cultivated, however. They are propagated by cutting and are planted about two feet apart in rows that are 4 feet apart. The cuttings are made from the old crowns (rootstock) and need to be about 4 inches long having runners or underground stems that are 4 inches long. They should be covered with about 3 inches of loose, well-cultivated soil which is free from stones. The surrounding soil should be well-dug and well-composted so that the roots can develop to a deep level. The planting is done in the spring--March or April.

Licorice roots should be harvested in late autumn, October to November, of the 4th year of growth. This is before the plant bears fruit. It is at this time, that the roots are sweetest. The uprooting process is facilitated by removing 2 or 3 feet of surrounding earth. Because the roots have long runners which can be as long as 6 feet, licorice is very difficult to harvest and requires hard manual labor. No satisfactory mechanical method has been developed for harvesting the roots. This is one of the reasons that licorice is grown in countries where the people are accustomed to difficult manual labor and exported to the more machine oriented cultures.

The Anti-Obese Formula

Licorice is used here because it decreases the desire to overeat while it gives energy to the body. The licorice root actually feeds the adrenal glands. Every 5 hours or so, the adrenal glands need a "meal", that is, some sort of nourishment. Many people try to fill this need by filling their intestines with empty calories. Licorice root provides this lift for the adrenals and thereby can sustain an individual's stamina without them having to eat a large meal for energy.

The Adrenal Formula

As mentioned above, licorice root supplies the adrenal glands with food while helping to rebuild the glands as well.

The Hormone-Estrogen Formula

We need licorice in the hormone-estrogen formula because the root contains natural female hormones. Men who take this formula need not be unduly alarmed about ingesting the herb. Remember, the Roman soldier legions carried licorice root with them as a part of their rations. Our bodies require a balance of male and female hormones and the body, the Creator's fabulous computer, is organized so that it selects only what it needs from the natural sources such as the herbs.

The Red Clover Combination

Licorice, as an adrenal builder, a body energizer, and an herb with an active principle exhibiting a cortisone-like effect, is the perfect ingredient in a formula which will correct cell deterioration. As you already know, the adrenal glands produce many substances which regulate the proper functioning of the rest of the body. Cortisone is one of the hormone-like secretions produced by the adrenal glands. In Dr. Christopher's newsletter, Volume II, No. 3, the adrenal glands and their functions in the body are described in detail. We refer the reader to that issue so that the entirety of the relationship of cortisone to the adrenal glands may be understood. Anytime a person has cell-deterioration, be it called by whatever name medical science can come up with, melanoma, carcinoma, malignant or benign, the adrenal function must be investigated. We do this through an iridological examination by a qualified Iridologist so that if there is some dysfunction, it can be remedied through diet and herbs.

The Pancreas Formula

Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia involve the breakdown of the adrenal glands as well as the pancreas. Licorice is included in this formula to nourish the adrenal glands while the cedar berries can act specifically upon the pancreas.

One of our former students, whose grandfather was Joe Pye, the Canadian Indian medicine man after whom gravel root was named "Joe Pye Weed," always traveled with a small bottle of concentrated licorice root extract on his person. He took several drops of the extract throughout the day to maintain his high energy level because he ate only one meal a day. A couple we know prepares a few quarts of licorice root tea to take along on a cross-country automobile trip. They sip it occasionally so they can remain alert throughout the journey. In Mesa, Arizona, there exists a Motorola radio factory. Some of the night shift ladies had resorted to No-Doz tablets containing caffeine because they were of the Mormon Church and didn't want to drink coffee to stay awake as did some of their co-workers. The tablets were giving them "caffeine nerves." We suggested licorice root capsules instead of the caffeine tablets. Now some of their co-workers have followed suit because they saw that licorice can keep them going without the side effects or harmful, inorganic drugs.

Another of our students prepared a combination of tincture of peppermint and licorice root for a very distressed opera singer who was losing her voice due to laryngitis. The formula enabled the singer to regain her voice and her composure within a day's time. The student called the preparation, "Opera Throat Formula", and successfully administers it to her laryngitis-suffering friends.
Selected Bibliography

GUNTHER, Robert T.

1934 The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Repr. 1959 by Hafner Publ. Co., New York.)

LAW, Donald

1973 The Concise Herbal Encyclopedia. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc.

LLOYD, John Uri

1911 Pharmacopoeial Vegetable Drugs. Lloyd Bulletin No. 18., Cincinnati, Ohio, Caxton Press.

LUCAS, Richard

1966 Nature's Medicines. West Nyack, New York: Parker Publishing Co., Inc.

LUST, John B.

1974 The Herb Book. Simi Valley, Calif.: Benedict Lust Publications.

RANSON, Florence

1949 British Herbs. Great Britain: Penguin Books, Ltd.

SHOOK, Dr. Edward E.

1978 Advanced Treatise in Herbology. Beaumont, California: Trinity Center Press.

THOMSON, William A. R., M.D.

1978 Medicine From The Earth. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

1976 Herbs that Heal New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.


Circa 1969 Plants of the Arid Regions.


The New England Journal of Medicine

Journal of the American Medical Association


I'm very interested in learning more about herbs and one day studying it so I would feet more confident using them as I do, medicinally. I've used lobelia tincture for my son's teething problems and on insect bites and rubbing on body for fever, etc. I've used antispasmodic tincture for his croup and coughing. It works great!! I wish the medical profession would accept this miracle remedy for croup and get off their high horse!

--Westboro, MA

Within the last year, I purchased from you your wonderful book - The School of Natural Healing and have been enjoying very much using it as a reference book. It is GREAT. With red pepper having the ability to stop heart attacks and to stop bleeding either internal or external - I just can't see why that information is not more widely known and used, especially by paramedics, boy scouts and girl scouts and athletic managers. People are always hearing about someone having a nosebleed that is very difficult to stop and hikers, etc. having an accident out in the wilderness and almost bleeding to death. Our household or car will never be without some red pepper in it. I am now taking it twice a day.

--Mesa, AZ

I am writing to ask you if BF&C capsules would do anything to regenerate the neck bones that have been damaged by the cancer. A couple of years ago I heard you speak in Toronto, and you mentioned that people who were taking BF&C had the fillings raising up and falling out of their teeth because the jaw bones were growing. After hearing this, I began taking BF&C, two capsules two or three times a day for a badly injured ankle. Although I had been told that my ankle might never function normally again, it is now as good as it was before the injury.

--Toronto, Canada

Earth Day is March 20 -- plant a tree, or plan an herb garden!

"Doctors and their medicines I regard as a deadly bane to any community. Give your children, when sick, a little simple herb drink." -- Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses, 14:109).
Recommended Books

We would like to recommend some fine books, tapes, card files and booklets for your library. We have also included a review of the first two on our list. These books and tapes are available from Christopher Publications, via this newsletter.

Just What is the Word of Wisdom?

by Dr. John R. Christopher, 24 pages.

The School of Natural Healing

by John R. Christopher, 653 pages.

"Dr. Christopher's New Herb Lectures"

lecture tapes of Dr. John R. Christopher, 10 tapes per set.

Herb Walk

by LeArta Moulton, 398 pages, full-color photographs.

"Nature's Medicine Chest"

by LeArta Moulton, six sets of full-color file cards on herbs with file box.

Vaccination, the Silent Killer

by Ida Honorof, 120 pages.

Back to Eden

Kloss Family Edition, by Jethro Kloss, 684 pages.

THE SCHOOL OF NATURAL HEALING, by Dr. John R. Christopher, 653 pages.

This volume is an indispensable reference book which covers most of the widely-used herbs in North America. The herbs are arranged in groups according to their therapeutic functions. For example, there are the astringent herbs, the alterative herbs, the emmenagogues, etc. The common names, the botanical names, and in some cases, the foreign names are supplied. Many formulas have been collected for each herb. Case histories from Dr. Christopher's personal experience of over 35 years as a drugless healer and Master Herbalist add much to the value of this book.

The School of Natural Healing is acclaimed as "The reference volume on natural herbs" for teachers, students and herbal practitioners, and is one of the most complete volumes available on the healing herbs.

Dr. Christopher's message is that God intended that every man have the knowledge to properly care for his own body. He has pioneered a work which is unique in the natural healing field, and is a highly respected lecturer throughout the United States and Canada.

In this book, Dr. Christopher discusses diseases, their symptoms and causes, and explains which herbs aid, what they look like, where to find them, and how to prepare them for medicinal use.

Dr. David R. Warden, M.D., from Kaysville, Utah, has this to say about the book: "I found this to be an interesting, timely and complete study of natural remedies and treatment of illnesses. I highly recommend it to those concerned with treating illness in a natural way."

JUST WHAT IS THE WORD OF WISDOM?, 24 pages. 10th printing, 1976. By Dr. John R. Christopher.

The information presented and interpreted in this booklet exists within and goes beyond the boundaries defined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dr. Christopher sat at the typewriter one day and the Holy Spirit enabled him to write a dissertation on the Word of Wisdom which was revered by James A. Widstoe, an apostle in the L.D.S. Church. Widstoe said that the Word of Wisdom by Dr. Christopher was the best expansion he had seen on the subject since the prophet Joseph Smith brought forth the original.

The publication treats diet, especially the meaning of "food in its wholesome state." Meat eating is also treated. Foods and their effect on our bodies in our times is discussed.

He discusses the meaning and use of wholesome herbs, noting that "herb" is a general classification which, broadly interpreted, takes in not only common weeds, but also plants, vegetables, etc.

He also comments on how wheat and other grains are the "staff of life" and are good for man. He ends the book by explaining the promises associated with the Word of Wisdom--that it is truly a principle with a promise.

This book is interesting and educational not only to Latter-day Saints, but has a valuable message to all seekers of truth and knowledge about diet and herbs. This document is truly inspirational as well as practical.
Questions and Answers.

Question #1: What herbs are useful for the treatment of herpes?

Answer #1: Following are some suggestions on the treatment of herpes simplex provided by master herbalist students submitted to The School of Natural Healing as an assignment.

David Blodgett's formula:

8 parts garlic, tincture or fresh
4 parts plantain powder
2 parts yellow dock powder
2 parts burdock root powder
1 part chaparral powder
1 part lobelia powder

Internal: 1 tablespoon, 3 times a day between meals

External: apply garlic and plantain poultice 1-2 times daily. Drink red clover combination tea 3 to 6 cups per day.

James Burns' formula:

External: fresh juice of one lemon, fresh juice of 3 cloves garlic, 6-8 drops tincture of black walnut, 5 drops oil of banana; make a powder of equal parts comfrey and goldenseal, add enough of the above liquid to make the amount of paste needed to cover the affected areas.

Internal: add the fresh juice of another lemon to the remaining liquid and drink with 2 #00 capsules of chaparral, 3 times a day, 6 days a week.

Leah Johnson's formula:

3 parts echinacea root (Echinacea pallida), alterative and antiseptic
1 part cayenne pepper (Capsicum), alterative to restore normal body function
1 part golden seal root (Hydrastis canadensis), anti-infection and tonic
1 part cascara sagrada bark (Rhamnus purshiana), laxative and tonic
1 part black walnut bark (Juglans nigra), anti-fungus and skin problems

Take two "00" capsules three times a day, six days a week until condition is corrected. Take these capsules with a large glass of distilled water to which 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon vinegar have been added (30 minutes before meals); aloe vera gel may be applied externally.

D. Delbert Schlabach's formula:

2 parts echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia)--it increases bodily resistance to infections--and is useful in cases of impurities of the blood. It is a very powerful alterative--antiseptic--antiputrefactive and tonic

2 parts garlic (Allium sativum)--Alterative--tonic--disinfectant--germicide--very high in organic sulfur--indicated in all pus and infection diseases

1 part barberry (Berberis vulgaris)--alterative--hepatic-tonic--mild laxative--very effective in cleaning up problems of the liver--works directly on the liver producing secretions of the bile, thus removing waste matter obstructions from the intestine and bowels--it is an excellent tonic

1 part burdock (Arctium lappa)--alterative--aperient-it is one of the best blood purifying agents known--does not cause nausea--there is no equal for all skin problems--syphilis, cancer, etc.--it contains an oil that works directly on the sebaceous and sudoriferous gland of the skin, greatly affecting cures for skin diseases

1 part chaparral (Larrea tridentata)--alterative--tonic-known for specific action on degenerative conditions-considered a cure-all--cleans the lymphatics--tones the system--rebuilds tissue

½ part golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis)--tonic-alterative--very valuable for all infectious conditions-tones debilitated mucous membranes--used for all types of acute and chronic conditions--infections, etc.

½ part cayenne (Capsicum annum)--stimulant--tonic --alterative

(Note: you may also check back to Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 2, Questions and Answers section on herpes.)

Question #2: How do you prepare wheat so that it is not mucous-forming?

Answer #2: One of Dr. Christopher's former students, Ann Cue, has authorized us to reprint an article on this subject, entitled "Wholesome Wheat Preparation, © 1981.


by Ann Cue, M.A., M.H.

Acknowledged by many to be the most perfect food for man, wheat is a storehouse of important vitamins, minerals, proteins, hormones, and other nutrients. However, most of these are unavailable for assimilation by the living cell unless the wheat has been properly prepared. To refine it, bleach it, bake it, boil it, or even grind it, guarantees that a potentially wholesome food will only create allergies, mucus conditions, and a generally toxic blood and bowel. Aware of these dangers, some health "authorities" have even advised that wheat should never be used as human food.

To fully realize the value of the wheat, it is important to understand the structure of the dormant seed-or "wheat berry." Its concentrated starches and proteins are indeed undigestible in the human body, but are a perfect food for the growing seed, which needs the assistance of moisture, air and heat to complete its life cycle. In the germination process, these starches and proteins are transformed into easily digestible carbohydrates and amino acids, and minerals and other nutrients are freed for assimilation. Wheat (or other seed food) at this stage is truly wholesome "food for man."

To correctly prepare wheat or other seed foods, the following steps are essential:

1) Soak the seeds or beans or grains until soft;

2) Expose the soaked seeds to air until germination begins;

3) Heat at low temperature, or sprout, until starches are broken down.


1) SOAKING: Pick out any loose hulls or damaged grains, carefully rinse off loose starch, dirt, etc., and fill a quart jar half full with the cleaned wheat. Then add pure water, preferably steam-distilled, to within an inch of the top of the jar. Leave this undisturbed for a minimum of 8 hours in very hot weather, up to 24 hours in a cooler environment, or until seeds are soft and chewable.

2) AIRING: Pour off the soaking water, but do not throw it away, as it is an extremely rich source of enzymes (Dr. Ann Wigmore's "Rejuvelac"). It can be allowed to remain at room temperature a few more hours, until lightly fermented, then drunk as a health beverage, or combined with ground sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or almonds to make delicious "seed sauces." (See Recipes for Life, Wigmore.)

Meanwhile, the wheat berries should be allowed to rest until the sprouting process is visible. If the jar is covered with wire screen or nylon netting, and tilted to allow drainage, bad odors will not develop. Otherwise, occasional rinsing may be necessary. About 12 hours is usually adequate for this step.

3) LOW-HEATING: Rinse the wheat, put into stainless steel or other non-toxic cooking vessel, add enough fresh, pure water to cover berries, cover tightly, and heat at a steady low temperature, 110°--160°, for 12-18 hours. (Never allow the heat to go over 175°.) Some excellent heat sources are a double boiler, thermostat-controlled electric skillet, yogurt maker, "Slo-Cooker, "pilot light, low oven, crock pot, with dimmer switch attached (all modern crock pots cook over 200° after the first two hours), etc. Be creative with your own equipment, and be willing to ruin a few batches of wheat in the process of experimentation. For thermos "cooking," pour the prepared wheat into a wide-mouth thermos and add boiling water, which will quickly become cool enough not to damage the wheat. Remember to allow room for the grains to expand, and keep the bottle lying on its side. Heating time may need to be slightly shortened in the thermos.

The finished wheat will be soft, tasty, chewy but not rubbery, and slightly "popped" open. It can be combined with honey, cinnamon, fruits or nuts for breakfast; oil, vinegar, herbs and raw vegetable casseroles, soups, and chili. It can be ground up with raw vegetables, herbs, and sun flower seeds, made into "burgers," and lightly sauteed. Or it can be enjoyed "straight."


(Room temperature 65° - 72°)

Day one A.M. Clean, rinse, and begin soaking wheat.
Day two A.M. Drain, rinse, and set wheat to air. Use soak water as drink or make sauce.
P.M. Rinse, cover with fresh water, set to heat.
Day three Remove from heat, eat, or refrigerate.

It is suggested that three containers be kept constantly in use: one for soaking, one for airing, and one for low-heating. With minimum investment in time and equipment, a family can rely on a constant supply of the staff of life, wheat, in its delicious wholesome state.


If bad odors develop during soaking and airing

Was wheat properly cleaned? Loose particles of starch, or broken grains, will rot rather than germinate.

Was room too warm? Use refrigerator, or shorten time of each step.

If wheat does not germinate

Check wheat source--chemicals may have been applied.

Check water source--fluoride, chlorine, and other chemicals interfere with life processes.

If finished wheat is sour

Was wheat thoroughly rinsed before heating?

Was temperature too low?

Was heating time too long?

If finished wheat is tough or dry

Was temperature too high?

Was enough water used to cover wheat?

Did vessel have a tight-fitting lid? (Stainless steel waterless cookware is ideal, since the lid forms a vacuum seal.)

Trevor Grenby, Ph.D. CChem, mentioned in an article in "Nutrition and Food Science" entitled "Too Much Sugar," (May-June 1980, No. 64, Forbes Publications, LTD., London, England) that eating patterns, especially in regards to how much sugar is eaten, is determined by many factors, including varied food availability, religious beliefs, social customs, living conditions, traditions, examples, and peer pressure. Since sugar is often the major cause of tooth decay and other health problems, it may be useful to keep this idea in mind when dealing with family or friends to understand some of the reasons why they have been indoctrinated or so persuaded to eat the way they do, and go on from there to teach them a better way.

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Junk food triggers our "bliss point"

Junk food triggers our ‘bliss point’

June 28, 2009
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

JUNK foods such as Snickers bars and ketchup really are irresistible. Manufacturers have created combinations of fat, sugar and salt that are so tasty many people cannot stop eating them even when full, according to America’s former food standards watchdog.

David Kessler, former head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has warned that snacks, cereals and ready meals devised by food scientists can act on the reward centres of the brain in the same way as tobacco.

He argues that manufacturers are seeking to trigger a “bliss point” when people eat certain products, leaving them hungry for more.

“It is time to stop blaming individuals for being overweight or obese,” said Kessler. “The real problem is we have created a world where food is always available and where that food is designed to make you want to eat more of it. For millions of people, modern food is simply impossible to resist.”

While at the FDA, Kessler was best known for his attacks on the tobacco industry, which he accused of manipulating cigarettes to make them even more addictive.

In a new book, The End of Overeating, he suggests food manufacturers have achieved a similar result using precise combinations of fat, sugar, salt and texture to make foods “hyper-palatable”.

Kessler cites Heinz tomato ketchup and Starbucks white chocolate mocha Frappuccino as examples of the thousands of modern foods that have been engineered to stimulate feelings of pleasure.

A study carried out by Kessler with researchers at Yale University using functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques, showed that about 50% of obese people and 30% of those who are overweight were prone to so-called “excessive activation”.

“The right combination of tastes triggers a greater number of neurons, getting them to fire more,” said Kessler. “The message to eat becomes stronger, motivating the eater to look for even more food.”

In other research, scientists have used rats to study how different combinations of fat, sugar and salt trigger the release of neurotransmitters in the brain’s pleasure centres.

The most powerful combination involved sucrose (table sugar) mixed with chocolate and alcohol – the same mixture found in desserts such as tiramisu.

Kessler said: “Many of us have what’s called a ‘bliss point’ – the point at which we get the greatest pleasure from sugar, fat or salt.

“As more sugar is added, food becomes more pleasurable until we reach the bliss point, after which it becomes too sweet and the pleasure drops off.” The same thing happens with fat and salt.

At the optimum point, food stimulates many people’s appetites instead of suppressing it, according to Kessler, who ran the FDA from 1990 to 1997 and is now professor of paediatrics, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California.

There have been a series of warnings about obesity in Britain. A landmark report by the National Audit Office in 2001 found that 20% of adults were obese – a figure that has since risen to 25% – while a further 38% were overweight.

The findings alarmed Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, so much that he warned of a “health time bomb” – particularly among children.

In 2007 the government’s science-led Foresight report said: “The wide variety and appeal of modern foods, with their increased palatability and ability to heighten sensory stimulation, drive us to reward ourselves with more food.”

Experts claimed that such evidence showed the need for state intervention. However, when Gordon Brown announced the Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy early last year, he said: “There should be no doubt that maintaining a healthy weight must be the responsibility of individuals first – it is not the role of government to tell people how to live their lives.”

Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University and a government adviser, said politicians’ obsession with promoting “choice” was damaging public health.

“If I walk to my local park for some exercise,” he said, “I pass more than 30 food outlets before I get there. It’s that combination of availability, advertising and seductive taste that makes modern food so addictive. ”

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Natural means to prevent breast cancer

(NaturalNews) One of the answers to breast cancer prevention has been right under our noses all along. When diets high in natural foods that inhibit the aromatase enzyme are eaten, breast cancers in postmenopausal women don't get a chance to start, according to research from the University of Munster in Germany. Scientists there have found that aromatase inhibitors are what keep normal cells from developing to the point where they can be classified as Grade 1 cancer.

Estrogen receptors (ER) alpha and beta are proteins found inside certain healthy cells of breast tissue. Estrogen binds with these receptors to stimulate tissue growth in young women during normal breast development. As women age these receptors play an important role in the development of breast cancer because they can continue to bind with excessive estrogen produced in breast tissue through the aromatization process, even after the ovaries no longer produce much estrogen. This can lead to the rapid growth and proliferation of mutated breast cells. If the process of aromatization is inhibited, excess estrogen will not be present in breast tissue to stimulate the growth of a cancer.

In a study designed to determine the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors compared with anti-estrogen drugs, the German scientists analyzed 21 human breast cancer tissue samples for a change in the ER alpha /ER beta ratio during the malignant progression of breast cancers. They found that the transition from normal breast cells to grade 1 tumors was characterized by the down-regulation of ER beta, while the transition from grade 1 to grade 3 tumors was associated with the decrease in ER alpha expression. In stimulation assays they found that anti-estrogen drugs such as tamoxifen increased ER alpha expression and left ER beta unchanged. In contrast, aromatase inhibitors up regulated ER beta, and by doing so, blocked the initiation of cancer. (Anticancer Research, June)

Nature has provided an abundance of aromatase inhibitors

You don't have to take drugs to inhibit aromatase. Nature has provided plants that will get the job done without harmful side effects. In April, Natural News ran an article about the powerful aromatase inhibiting ability of chrysin (http://www.naturalnews.com/026086.html), a flavonoid from the passion flower plant. Research showed that chrysin worked as well to inhibit the aromatase enzyme as a drug designed for that purpose. Chrysin is normally taken as a supplement along with piperine which greatly enhances its bioavailability.

For those who would rather get their aromatase inhibiting flavonoids from whole foods, there are several good tasting choices. Beneficial compounds gotten from food have the added benefits of the perfect synergy found in a whole food as well as the other nutrients and compounds it contains.

Quercetin, naringenin, resveratrol, apigenin, genistein, and oleuropein are all powerful flavonoids from whole foods that inhibit aromatase while at the same time offering a treasure chest of other health benefits. When these foods are organically grown, they are higher in these flavonoids than produce grown conventionally.

Quercetin is the main reason an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It is a major antioxidant with important anti-aging benefits. It fights inflammation and reduces the cellular damage inflammation causes. By fighting inflammation, it also helps decrease swelling and pain, and keeps the circulatory system healthy. Quercetin helps prevent fatigue by helping to decrease damage from heavy exercise, and increase endurance. It is an anti-viral, and an immune system supporter and liver protector. Research has suggested that quercetin has other anti-cancer benefits aside from inhibiting aromatase in breasts and prostates. Cabbage, onions and garlic are other good sources of this powerful flavonoid.

Apigenin is a non-mutigenic flavonoid that has significant chemoprotective action against UV radiation. Research has shown apigenin reduces oxidative damage of DNA, inhibits the growth and induces differentiation in human leukemia cells, inhibits cancer cell transduction, and induces appropriate cell death. Like quercetin, apigenin acts as an anti-inflammatory and as an antispasmodic. Apigenin is found in good supply in celery, parsley, artichokes, basil, and chamomile.

Naringenin, is an antioxidant, free radical scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulator. It has been shown to promote proper metabolism of carbohydrates. It was shown to reduce hepatitis C virus production by infected liver cells in cell culture and to inhibit the secretion of very low density lipoprotein by cells. As a cancer fighter, it reduces oxidative damage to DNA. Naringenin is found in all citrus and may be the reason that diets high in citrus are negatively correlated with heart disease. However, naringenin should not be obtained from grapefruit or grapefruit juice, which has an inhibitory effect on the human cytochrome P450 isofrom, another enzyme in the same complex as the aromatase enzyme. This enzyme is involved in breaking down and metabolizing sex hormones and preventing their excess accumulation in the body, so inhibiting it is not a good idea.

Resveratrol is a flavonoid gaining wide respect for its multitude of health benefits. Several recent research studies have revealed that resveratrol is highly effective against breast cancer by inhibiting ER positive and negative cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and primary breast tumor growth. Resveratrol is protective of the liver even against alcohol. It also keeps the central nervous system strong by protecting neurons from oxidative stress. Resveratrol is found to some degree in the skin and seeds of red grapes. Muscadine grapes have the largest content and are often used to make red wine. Although supplements of resveratrol are popular and widely available, getting resveratrol from red wine allows you to get the entire grape polyphenol group of nutrients, a group that has been shown to work much better synergistically. Breast tumor growth and metastasis to bone and liver were shown to be better inhibited by the complete grape polyphenol complex.

Oleuropein gives olive oil its distinctive flavor and is found in abundance in the leaves of the olive tree. It is one of the reasons olive leaf is such a powerful tool for wellness. Oleuropein helps the body fight off viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It is contained in every part of the olive tree and is the basis of its defense from insects. Oleuropein has been shown to boost the immune defense of people too, as well as fostering a healthy balance between friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract. In animal research, oleuropein was shown to enhance nitric oxide production. It is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

All these foods are prominent features of the Mediterranean diet

Fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil and red wine are components of the Mediterranean diet, the one and only diet that has consistently correlated with lower death rates from all causes. Flavonoids from each of these foods inhibit aromatase activity to reduce incidence of breast cancer. And when you chose a diet that features these foods on a regular basis, what you are really getting is the best all around prevention plan on earth.

For more information:


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