Licorice and asthma
I have moderate asthma and have been prescribed inhaled steroids, taken daily, to control it. I've been reading about licorice as an alternative, how does this work?
The botanical name for Licorice is Glycyrrhiza glabra and it is a herb commonly used by practitioners to treat a broad range of complaints, it is also typically used in many formulations to improve the taste of the liquid herbs and also as a harmoniser to moderate and improve the desired effects of other herbal remedies. Licorice has been used in ancient Greece, China, and Egypt primarily for gastritis and ailments of the upper respiratory tract.
Botanical actions of Licorice
Although Licorice is not the first herb which comes to mind to decrease the severity and incidences of asthma it may be used successfully for the following reasons:
- Licorice may suppress inflammation due to Glycyrrhetinic Acid and therefore may be useful for the treatment of allergies. The Glycyrrhizin content of Licorice may increase the effectiveness of Cortisol against allergies and may inhibit various endogenous enzymes that are involved in the inflammation associated with allergies
- The following actions are associated with Licorice: Immune modulator, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-oxidant, adaptogenic, liver protective, spasmolytic (moderates spasms and alleviates pain), gastrointestinal stimulant
- According to Traditional Chinese medicine Licorice tonifies Spleen and augments Qi (energy), moistens Lungs and relieves cough and wheeze
- Clears heat and relieves toxicity, tonifies the middle burner to enhance the transformation functions of the Spleen and Stomach
When shouldnt I use Licorice?
Cautions regarding taking Licorice: high doses (5-15g/ daily for 8 weeks) may cause hypokalemia (low Potassium levels) in some individuals. There are a few cautions regarding the use of Licorice and pharmaceutical medications such as blood pressure lowering medication, diuretics, diabetic medications and is not to be used in pregnancy or if you have allergies/ hypersensitivities to the herb itself or to members of the Fabaceae (Leguminaceae) family (pea family).
For further information see the Ask a Naturopath.com webpages concerning asthma