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Benefits of Licorice for Acid Reflux

written by: BStone • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 2/28/2011

With soothing properties for the gastrointestinal tract, licorice root may be beneficial for digestive disorders such as acid reflux. Learn what the benefits are and how to safely use licorice for acid reflux.

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    Why Is Licorice Beneficial?

    Licorice root is a widely used herb, especially in traditional Chinese medicine. It has numerous benefits, from toning the adrenal glands to treating respiratory infections. Rich in glycosides and saponins, it has good anti-inflammatory and demulcent properties, soothing irritated, inflamed tissue. This makes licorice helpful for improving healing and preventing not only acid reflux, but also stomach ulcers and gastritis. It acts to protect tissue while also bringing gentle, natural relief.

    Licorice root is not a cure for acid reflux but it certainly may help reduce symptoms for some people. Medicine Plus of the National Institutes of Health lists licorice as possibly effective for treating heartburn when used with a blend of herbs, including chamomile, caraway, lemon balm and milk thistle. Is using licorice for acid reflux right for you?

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    How to Use Licorice

    Licorice improves the quality of mucus in the digestive tract, improves microcirculation of the gastrointestinal lining and reduces inflammation. There are many potential benefits for sufferers of heartburn and other common digestive issues — but, how is it used?

    Licorice may be effective for treating acid reflux only when it interacts with saliva. You can chew on licorice tablets or drink an herbal infusion made from dried licorice root. To make an herbal tea steep one teaspoon of the dried herb in one cup of boiling water. Blend with other soothing herbs if desired such as chamomile, marshmallow root or meadowsweet. Drink daily. Licorice candy and capsules are not helpful for managing reflux symptoms.

    If approaching GERD naturally, make sure you are also eating a healthy diet for reflux symptoms and making healthy lifestyle choices, such as avoiding alcohol and tobacco smoke, getting regular exercise, and remaining upright for four hours after eating.

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    Side Effects of Licorice

    While licorice root has many benefits for acid reflux and the GI tract in general it cannot be used by everyone. Licorice is not safe for people who suffer from high blood pressure. Using licorice consistently over three to four weeks will probably raise blood pressure levels. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension then licorice is not a safe remedy. As there are no symptoms of high blood pressure, be sure to see your doctor to check the status of your health before regularly using licorice. If you have normal blood pressure, still do not use this herb for more then three weeks at a time.

    Licorice is a naturally sweet herb with many health benefits. Using licorice for acid reflux can certainly help many people, especially in combination with other soothing herbs. To be safe, talk to your doctor before use. If you get the okay, enjoy the natural healing benefits of this traditional herb.

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    References

    Sklar, Jill and Annabel Cohen. Eating for Acid Reflux. (Marlowe and Company, 2003).

    Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing.Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).

    Medicine Plus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/881.html