In ancient Egypt, if you wanted something sweet to quench your thirst, you couldn’t grab a sports drink at a local convenience store. Instead, Egyptians made a liquid drink from licorice root that looked like tea. Pharaohs and prophets alike drank the tea not only as a thirst quencher but also as a natural remedy for stomach ulcers and canker sores.
Today, you’re more likely to think of licorice as candy, but it does more than soothe your sweet tooth. There are many licorice root benefits, and we’re going to focus on its ability to balance Candida overgrowth.
What Is Licorice Anyway?
Licorice comes from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, a perennial herb that grows native in Turkey, Greece, and Asia.[1, 2, 3] It wasn’t just ancient Egyptians who used this plant. In China and Greece, they used licorice root — also called sweet root — to lend flavor to food and drinks and for natural remedies. From easing stomach discomfort to soothing digestion, this plant provided a variety of benefits. In traditional Chinese medicine, they combine licorice root with other plants, such as dandelions and anise seed, to add flavor and improve the remedies' effectiveness.
Licorice root contains glycyrrhizic acid, glabridin, and lichochalcone-A, three potent compounds thought to be responsible for its health benefits, including resisting Candida. It contains more than 70 known bioactive compounds, including triterpenoids and flavonoids. These deter harmful organisms, reduce redness and swelling, and provide other health benefits.
Glycyrrhizic acid keeps harmful cells from growing out of control, among other benefits. However, if you take glycyrrhizic acid for too long, it can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Supplements of deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), a form with the acid removed, have become popular. However, some of the root’s benefits come from having all components of the root together. Glycyrrhizic acid itself offers health benefits, so it’s helpful to take the whole root with all compounds intact, as needed — just not for extended periods of time.
You can find licorice root in a variety of forms. You can buy licorice as dried roots, in tea form, capsules, or powder. Licorice root is also available as a nutritional supplement in capsules alone or combined with other herbs.
If you like black licorice candy and think you’re going to get health benefits, think again. These days, the candy is usually flavored with anise, not licorice.
Licorice Root & Fungal Balance
Since ancient times, people have been aware of the health properties of licorice root. One of the most important benefits of licorice root is its ability to balance fungi, like yeast, in the body.
Why Does Yeast Grow Out of Control?
Candida albicans is the most common yeast to cause fungal infections in people. Although it usually lives in the throat, stomach, and other parts of your body without causing any issues, sometimes Candida overgrowth can become a problem. When Candida grows excessively, it can become an oral infection (thrush) or a vaginal yeast infection.
Anyone can get a yeast infection. Still, it’s more common in people who eat a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates, have a weak immune system, or who recently took antibiotics. Certain drugs and medical conditions can weaken your immune system and make it easier for opportunistic yeast to grow.
What Licorice Root Can Do
So how does licorice root balance yeast? First, licorice root can deter harmful organisms. Lichochalcone-A, a natural compound found in licorice, is responsible for some of these properties. It can disrupt the growth of harmful organisms and bring balance to the natural microbial ecosystem in your body. Likewise, glycyrrhizic acid has a powerful ability to deter harmful organisms.[2, 5]
Licorice promotes mucus formation, which is responsible for its stomach-soothing properties.[10, 11] The mucus soothes and protects the esophagus and stomach from excess acid. The mucus itself may deter harmful organisms.
Other Licorice Root Benefits
- Supporting the gastrointestinal system
- Helping stomach discomfort
- Soothing red or irritated skin
- Supporting the immune system by balancing microbes
- Stimulating the production of immune system T-cells
Best Ways to Use Licorice Root
The best way to use licorice root is to find it in its natural form or buy a high-quality nutritional supplement. Candida Balance is an all-natural blend that includes organic licorice root plus other organically-certified herbs and enzymes, including organic anise seed and wildcrafted jatoba bark. This vegan formula naturally balances yeast and fungi in the body.
Body Balance Tea
If you’re interested in taking licorice for Candida, try this delicious, balancing tea blend recipe to promote yeast balance:
- 1 teaspoon licorice root
- 1 piece cinnamon bark
- 5 anise seeds
- 1 slice dried orange peel
- Raw honey to taste
- Boil water in a saucepan or kettle.
- Add licorice root, cinnamon bark, anise seeds, and dried orange peel to the boiling water.
- Let the ingredients simmer for at least 30 minutes on low heat.
- Strain all the ingredients and leave the liquid.
- Add raw honey to the liquid tea to taste.
- Pour liquid into a cup and enjoy.
What Else Can I Do For Fungal Balance?
Taking licorice root isn’t the only way to achieve fungal balance in your body. The best way is to change your diet, eliminating yeast-promoting foods. The Candida diet plan removes sugar while adding foods that nourish your gut microbiome. The goal of the diet is to “starve” the yeast of the food it needs.
You will eliminate the following:
- All yeast and fungus (eg. mushrooms)
And you will add these foods and drinks:
- Fermented foods
- Gluten-free grains
- Healthy fats and oils
In addition to making the diet changes above, you should reduce your stress levels, get enough sleep, and add a quality probiotic supplement to your daily regimen. Global Healing’s Global Healing's Ultimate Probiotic contains 25 unique strains plus prebiotics and bacteriophages.
Licorice Root Precautions
Too much of licorice’s glycyrrhizic acid may raise blood pressure and decrease potassium in your body. If you have concerns over these issues, talk to your healthcare provider for specific medical advice.
Generally, don’t take licorice for longer than eight weeks at a time. This is plenty of time to help balance your body, while avoiding any potential side effects from taking glycyrrhizic acid over the long term.
Pregnant women or women who are considering having a child should also avoid licorice root.
Points to Remember
From using it as a natural sweetener for teas to balancing fungus like Candida in the body, people have been aware of licorice root's benefits for centuries. In ancient Egypt, China, and other parts of the world, they used licorice root in a variety of traditional remedies. It was also popular because of its thirst-quenching properties.
Today, we know that one of the most important benefits of licorice root is its ability to balance fungus and yeast in the body. Candida overgrowth is more common in people with weak immune systems, but anyone can get a yeast infection at any age. So using a natural method to balance fungi in the body is helpful. Combining it with other fungus-deterring herbs in a formula like Candida Balance is an excellent option.
Licorice root has other benefits, including promoting hormone balance during menopause, soothing stomach discomfort, supporting the immune system, balancing different microbes, and soothing red or irritated skin. You can drink licorice root as a tea or buy it in supplement form, which makes it easier to take.
- Licorice Root. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Updated Sep. 2016. Accessed 4 Nov. 2019.
- Radix Glycyrrhizae. World Health Organization (WHO). 1999. Accessed 4 Nov. 2019.
- Wang X, et al. Liquorice, a unique "guide drug" of traditional Chinese medicine: a review of its role in drug interactions. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Dec 12;150(3):781-790.
- Messier C, Grenier D. Effect of licorice compounds licochalcone A, glabridin and glycyrrhizic acid on growth and virulence properties of Candida albicans. Mycoses. 2011 Nov;54(6):e801-e806.
- Wang L, et al. The antiviral and antimicrobial activities of licorice, a widely-used Chinese herb. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2015 Jul; 5(4):310-315.
- Omar HR, et al. Licorice abuse: time to send a warning message. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Aug; 3(4):125-138.
- Candidiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 12 Apr. 2019. Accessed 4 Nov. 2019.
- Who Gets Fungal Infections? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 25 Jan. 2017. Accessed 4 Nov. 2019.
- Seleem D, et al. In vitro and in vivo antifungal activity of lichochalcone-A against Candida albicans biofilms. PLoS One. 2016;11(6):e0157188.
- Ghalayani P, et al. Comparison of triamcinolone acetonide mucoadhesive film with licorice mucoadhesive film on radiotherapy‐induced oral mucositis: a randomized double‐blinded clinical trial. Asia Pac J Clin Oncol. 2017 Apr;13(2):e48-e56.
- Setright R. Prevention of symptoms of gastric irritation (GERD) using two herbal formulas: an observational study. Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society. 2017;23(2).
- Cheel J, et al. Licorice infusion: chemical profile and effects on the activation and the cell cycle progression of human lymphocytes. Pharmacogn Mag. 2010;6(21):26-33.
- Hajirahimkhan A, et al. Evaluation of estrogenic activity of licorice species in comparison with hops used in botanicals for menopausal symptoms. PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e67947.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.