Dried licorice root is a good nutrient to have on hand, especially during the flu season. Doctors at the University of Texas exposed animals to 50-percent lethal doses of the influenza virus. Half were given injections of glycyrrhizin (the active ingredient in licorice root) one day before being infected, and again on days one and four following the infection. The other half were given only saline injections.
After 21 days, all the animals given glycyrrhizin were still alive. There were no survivors in the saline group, and their average survival time after infection was 10.5 days.
Further evaluation of the licorice extract revealed that it had no effect on stopping or slowing the replication of the influenza virus itself, but it actually protected the animals by stimulating the production of interferon by the immune system T cells.
Glycyrrhizin is chemically similar to hormones produced by the adrenal glands. Its structure is responsible for its immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory capabilities as well as its side effects.
At the first sign of the flu, I suggest drinking a cup of licorice-root tea daily for a month or so. This should boost your immune system to help fight off the flu.
To be sure you're getting glycyrrhizin, make your own tea from dried licorice root. Add one pound of chopped root to three pints of boiling water and continue to boil until approximately one quart is left. Recommended dosage is one teaspoon of the liquid taken three times daily. Store remaining liquid in a glass container with a tight lid, in the refrigerator.
Note: Long-term use of glycyrrhizin or licorice root can cause fluid retention, with edema or swelling in the face and extremities, especially the ankles. This in turn can elevate blood pressure.
Because of side effects, most licorice-extract products sold in this country do not contain glycyrrhizin. For certain conditions such as ulcers, the extract works well without the glycyrrhizin component, but glycyrrhizin is essential for fighting viruses. It is best to use licorice root or glycyrrhizin-containing extracts for only a few weeks. Do not use if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant.