We all have days where we feel a little low on energy and motivation; this is understandable when you take a look at the schedules people try to keep up with these days. After working nine hours, running errands, making sure kids get where they need to be, making dinner, cleaning up, enforcing homework time, and attempting to keep up with the housework, it’s really no wonder that some of us feel like we need a few more hours in a day! However, if this feeling of chronic tiredness seems to persist for more than a few days or when on relatively calm occasions, it may be caused by something more than just a hectic lifestyle.
Dr. James Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” to describe a chronic lack of energy (along with a variety of associated symptoms). According to Dr. Wilson, about 80% of people will experience this condition at some point in their lives. Here at NeuroScience we are passionate about researching ingredients that address specific imbalances within the body associated with adrenal fatigue.
Our latest ingredient of interest is licorice root (glycyrrhizic acid). This ingredient works by inhibiting the conversion of cortisol to inactive cortisone; therefore, supporting adequate cortisol levels in patients with suboptimal levels due to the effects of adrenal fatigue.
Looking beyond the cortisol-supporting properties of licorice root, we would like to point out a few other benefits of this ingredient. Licorice root has been used as a key herb in traditional Chinese medicine for over three thousand years. It was used as a treatment to rejuvenate the heart and spleen, aid in the treatment of ulcers, coughs, colds, and digestive complaints. In addition to supporting cortisol levels and adrenal function, here are a few other beneficial properties of licorice root that make it a valuable addition to a variety of patient protocols.
Licorice has anti-inflammatory properties
There have been a variety of studies that have investigated the anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory properties of licorice root (glycyrrhiza):
- Martin and colleagues (2008) performed a randomized, double-blind clinical trial for the use of glycyrrhiza in the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores). They observed that the group treated with glycyrrhiza reported lower pain levels as well as significantly reduced ulcer size.
- Messier and colleagues (2012) also reported on the potential beneficial effects of licorice on treating/preventing oro-dental diseases, such as dental cavities, periodontitis, and candidiasis. Wenyuan Shi, PhD, a micorbiologist at UCLA’s School of Dentristry states, “More studies are needed before it is proven that the compounds effectively fight cavities in humans. If further studies show promise, the licorice compounds could eventually be used as cavity-fighting components in mouthwash or toothpaste.”
- The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology July edition reports that licorice is effective for use in treatment of rosacea, atopic dermatitis, irritated skin, drug-induced skin eruptions, and psoriasis.
Licorice helps regulate blood sugar and may help counteract Type 2 Diabetes
- Glucocorticoids help regulate the activity of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK), an enzyme that is used in the metabolic pathway of gluconeogenesis. PEPCK is associated with the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome when dysregulated.
- Researchers (Chia, 2012) noted that treatment with glycyrrizic acid led to a decrease in blood glucose, as well as reduced adipocytes in subcutaneous and visceral deposits. They concluded that glycyrrizic acid may help counteract the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus by improving insulin sensitivity.
Licorice can be beneficial in cases of hypotension
- One of the symptoms of insufficient adrenal function is hypotension. Licorice is known to support adrenal function and has also been shown to raise blood pressure (Al-Dujaili 2010). Due to this effect, patients that are prone to hypertension should not use licorice, or only do so under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
Hopefully this entry has given you some new and useful information about licorice root and reminded you of the effects of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal function plays a significant role in overall health and wellbeing, so if you find yourself or a patient experiencing symptoms that go beyond the effects of a jam-packed schedule, remember this ingredient as a possible intervention. As demonstrated above, licorice root is a very useful ingredient with a wide variety of beneficial properties including supporting healthy cortisol levels.