The dried liquorice root has been therapeutically used against viral infections of the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system, genital-urinary system, skin and eye1-4. It would take more than this article would allow cataloguing all the viruses and studies that have shown positive effects of liquorice supplementation, so instead some key examples are mentioned.
Viral hepatitis kills 1 million people per year and, according to global estimates, a staggering 500 million worldwide is believed to be affected by the disease, more than ten times the number affected by HIV/AIDS5. The World Health Organisation claims that “the burden of disease is truly dramatic yet viral hepatitis has been forgotten and misplaced”. Measures to combat and relieve the symptoms of the disease are greatly lacking in modern society5. For the past 20 years, Glycyrrhizin, a glucoside found in the liquorice root, has been used in Japan as a treatment for chronic hepatitis1. In randomized controlled trials, in patients with viral hepatitis, intravenous administration of glycyrrhizin, resulted in a significant reduction of serum liver enzymes and caused an improvement in liver histology in comparison with placebo1.
Among adults 15 to 49, the proportion currently infected with HIV is between 0.8-1% and the deaths caused by AIDS is approximately accounts for 4% of all deaths, with 2.2 million dying from the infection, globally each year6. Dealing with HIV and preventing HIV infections are clearly global health concerns. A study by Mori et al1 in haemophilia A patients with HIV infection found that glycyrrhizin not only possesses an inhibitory effect on HIV replication, but also has interferon-inducing and natural killer-enhancing effects, factors important in the immune response. This study seemed to suggest that administration of glycyrrhizin to HIV-positive haemophilia can be effective in preventing the development of AIDS by raising the number of CD4-positive T-lymphocytes.
Influenza A Virus
Viral respiratory infections are the most common diseases that affect people of all ages. The influenza A virus is considered to be a major human pathogen and can cause between 3 and 5 million cases of severe illness and up to 500,000 deaths worldwide in any one flu season4. Currently there are only two classes of drug that are approved in the treatment of the influenza A virus, adamantane derivatives (amantadine and rimantadine)
Liquorice has established itself as having many antiviral uses. It shows promise as an ingredient in future antiviral medications and supplements. People infected with the previously listed diseases should consider finding a regular and easy way to introduce liquorice into their diet.
A healthy & easy way to get liquorice in the diet
The team at Gene Eden (www.gene-eden.com)
1. Fiore, C., Eisenhut, M., Krausee, R., Ragazzi, E., Pellati, D., Bielenberg, J. (2008) Antiviral effects of Glycyrrhiza species. Phytother Res. Vol. 22, No. 2: 141-8
2. Asl, M. N., Hosseinzadeh, H. (2008) Review of Pharmacological Effects of Glycyrrhiza sp. and its Bioactive Compounds Phytother Res. 22: 709-724
3. Fiore, C., Eisenhut, M., Ragazzi, E., Zanchn, G., Armanini, D. (2005) A history of the therapeutic use of liquorice in Europe Journal of Ethnopharmacology Vol. 99, No. 3: 317-324
4. Wolkerstorfer, A., Kurz, H., Bachhofner, N., Szolar, O. H. J. (2009) Glycyrrhizin inhibits influenza A virus uptake into the cell Antiviral Research Vol. 83, No. 2: 171-178
5. At last a global response to viral hepatitis. (2010) Bull World Health Organ [online]. Vol. 88, No. 11: 801-802.
6. Bongaarts, J., Over, M. (2010) Global HIV/AIDS policy in transition Science Vol. 328, No. 5984: 1359-1360
7. Moscona, A. (2009) Global Transmission of Oseltamivir-
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polyDNA, a biotechnology company, developed and markets Gene-Eden, an antiviral dietary supplement that targets the most common chronic viruses, including EBV, CMV, HSV, VZV, HBV, HCV, and HPV.