The licorice root is one of the few natural ingredients that have actual scientific proof with regard to its health benefits. It has been widely used throughout the eastern and western cultures with medicinal benefits ranging from treating asthma, hepatitis and viral infections.

So what does the licorice root do for our skin and beauty?

  • Improves skin cell regeneration and DNA protection - which results in younger looking skin. A study investigating the compounds Galbridin and Glycyrretinic Acid found in licorice, saw that when skin damaged by UV radiation was treated topically with the compounds, the skin exhibited faster skin cell regeneration.

  • Soothes, calms and treats skin conditions such as Acne. If you are suffering from dermatitis or certain skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema, the glycyrrhizin and licochalcone A extract from the root have been proven to contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties. A study of the extracts in 2008 found that it had significantly reduced inflammation, swelling and tissue damage in mice. Since then, further studies have been conducted to specifically test licorice and skin care benefits with the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology concluding that licorice was indeed, a very effective treatment for skin dermatoses.

  • Controls redness and flushing. Topical applications of licorice root extract has seen to be effective in controlling redness and flushing when the active extract (dipotassium glycyrrhizate) is added to cosmetics.

  • Diminishes dark pigmentation. The active component in licorice called glabridin is thought to be a natural alternative to hydoquinone – a chemical ingredient used to lighten skin. Glabridin inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which cause pigmentation in response to sun exposure.

  • Aids in hair growth and controls oil and dandruff. Put some extract in your shampoo to control the scalp sebum and to treat dandruff. The licochalcone A molecule regulates the oil production. Ayurvedic medicine believes that licorice and milk combined to form a paste, can restore hair growth.

Note that there are side effects to excess consumption of licorice and that pregnant women should consult their doctors before consuming.

Where to get licorice root and how to use it?

Licorice Tea

The easiest form of licorice intake is through boiling licorice tea. To make licorice tea at home, buy the licorice root in bulk and boil it in water for at least 2-3 mins. You only need 2 or 3 sprigs of the root per pot. You can add more for intense flavor. In winter months when you feel a sore throat coming, add some ginger root to this brew and consume regularly. For a different twist, add a slice of lemon.

Alternatively, look for licorice teabags in your local grocery store. Be sure to read the ingredients list to ensure it contains 100% licorice root.

Licorice root extract also comes in a liquid form. You can pick this up at most health food grocers. Note that most red licorice candy does not contain licorice, instead it contains artificial flavors and anise.