Licorice Health Benefits
Licorice health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties and possible anticancer effects. In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis) was used to treat food poisoning and sore throat, and Native Americans used it to ease diarrhea, fever, and stomachache.
Licorice is a perennial herb native to western and central Asia as well as southern Europe. Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which is one source of licorice health benefits and the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties. The flavonoids in licorice help heal digestive tract cells and also act as antioxidants to protect the liver. Licorice has been found to have anticancer properties, and numerous studies have looked at the impact of licorice extracts on prostate cancer cells.
A March 2010 study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research noted that a hexane/ethanol extract of G. uralensis induced apoptosis (cell death) in human prostate cancer cells and showed other actions favorable to fighting cancer. (Seon 2010) Licorice health benefits in an earlier study included the ability of G. glabra to induce both apoptosis and autophagy (when a cell digests itself) in prostate cancer cells. (Yo 2009) At the University of Illinois, researchers found that glycyrrhizin is effective against human prostate cancer cells in the lab. (Thirugnanam 2008)
How To Use Licorice
Licorice should be used with caution. The anticancer component of licorice, glycyrrhizin, can cause high blood pressure when taken in high amounts or for a prolonged period of time. Most licorice supplements on the market have had the glycyrrhizin removed. More research is needed before experts can determine whether licorice can be viable to help prevent or treat prostate cancer.
Seon MR et al. Isoangustone A present in hexane/ethanol extract of Glycyrrhiza uralensis induces apoptosis in DU145 human prostate cancer cells via the activation of DR4 and intrinsic apoptosis pathway. Mol Nutr Food Res 2010 Mar 12.
Thirugnanam S et al. Glycyrrhizin induces apoptosis in prostate cancer cell lines DU-145 and LNCaP. Oncol Rep 2008 Dec; 20(6): 1387-92.
Yo YT et al. Licorice and licochalcone-A induce autophagy in LNCaP prostate cancer cells by suppression of Bcl-2 expression and the mTOR pathway. J Agric Food Chem 2009 Sep 23; 57(18): 8266-73