Licorice extract – a therapy option for COVID-19 diseases

In the news coverage of COVID-19, the important advice on health prevention, a healthy diet and lifestyle, and strengthening the immune system through naturopathic remedies is unfortunately almost completely missing.

The only options currently mentioned for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 disease and its symptoms are various pharmaceutical substances such as Chloroquine (an anti-malaria agent), immune modulators, or future vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen(Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). As with all pharmaceutical drugs, these treatments are always accompanied by side effects. However, hardly a word is said about the manifold and well-researched possibilities for effective health prevention and the natural strengthening of our immune system. If one digs a little deeper in the world of science and of studies, a lot of data comes to light which attest the natural remedies considerable potential for the prevention and treatment of viral diseases.

The relation of the current coronavirus to viral diseases of the past 15 years such as SARS or MERS is that they all belong to the coronavirus family. The SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was also identified as an animal-transmitted virus in China in 2003 after the first cases were reported in the Southern Chinese province of Guangdong in 2002. MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) first appeared in the region of the Middle East in 2012. Dromedaries were regarded as virus carriers at that time.

With SARS as well as MERS, patients showed symptoms similar to those of people currently suffering from COVID-19. Typical symptoms of all three diseases are cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever; some of those affected also suffer from diarrhoea. A small proportion of those affected may experience breathing problems and pneumonia, which can then worsen to life-threatening lung failure in a small number of patients, usually already weakened.

Licorice root: Evidence of good effect on corona diseases, and yet not an issue today!

In the treatment of corona-induced respiratory symptoms, the use of licorice root should definitely be mentioned alongside the typical general medical approaches. The active substance glycyrrhizinic acid is naturally contained in the root of the licorice plant and is also appropriately called licorice sugar. It is used, among other things, in the production of licorice. Due to the saponins it contains, especially glycyrrhizinic acid, licorice root has an expectorant, mucolytic and expectoration-promoting effect. Licorice extracts have also been shown to be effective against bacteria and fungi. Typical areas of application are accordingly cough, bronchial catarrh and other diseases of the upper respiratory tract.

Studies linked with the former avian flu virus (H5N1) show that glycyrrhizinic acid can inhibit viral cell-damaging effects. The effect of licorice extract in treating symptoms of SARS has also been investigated. On June 23rd 2003, “Die Welt” therefore ran the headline: “Licorice contains the SARS stopper” [1]! We find the same statements in the edition of the German Pharmaceutical Newspaper [2].
Glycyrrhizinic acid, just like melissa, can effectively inhibit the multiplication of the SARS virus and thus represents an important therapeutic option [3]. In contrast, classical antiviral agents such as Tamiflu with the active component Oseltamivir have not been able to achieve sufficient efficacy. The close relationship to SARS and MERS makes a similar effect in current COVID-19 diseases very likely.

Moreover, there are also further findings on the effects of licorice extract in various viral diseases such as herpes or the Epstein-Barr virus. Licorice extract can even render herpes viruses harmless when they are in a dormant state by uncovering the disguise of the latent viruses [4]. This triggers a protection program in the infected cells, and apoptosis, the programmed cell death in which the cell destroys itself, occurs. This works not only with herpes, but also with the now widespread Epstein-Barr viruses [5], which are associated with various metabolic disorders of the liver and thyroid gland and with immune deficiencies.

Because licorice extract increases the body’s production of interleukin 10 (a protein that inhibits inflammatory reactions in the body), it is also useful for prevention, as it generally improves the body’s defences against viruses and other pathogen-related chronic inflammatory situations. This is shown by another study on the treatment of herpes diseases with glycyrrhizinic acid. It was shown that by reactivating the immune system, the body is able to attack a chronic herpes infection without triggering an overreaction in the form of autoimmune inflammation. [6]

As early as 1990, a study was published on the preparation “Stronger Neominophages C” (a glycyrrhizinic acid preparation prepared as an infusion). This study attributed the product a considerable effect in the treatment of liver dysfunction in the context of HIV disease. [7] There are also studies on excellent effects in hepatitis B and C.

Notes on Self-Medication
Long-term and high intakes of 600mg of glycyrrhizinic acid and more per day can lead to an increase in the cortisol level and, due to changes in the sodium and potassium levels, to symptoms such as water retention, muscle weakness, high blood pressure or cardiac arrhythmia. These symptoms disappear very quickly after discontinuing the remedy. Nevertheless, a diet rich in potassium (e.g. with bananas, apricots, potatoes, cabbage and leafy vegetables) should be followed in parallel with the intake of licorice products. And as with all herbal medicine applications, liquorice tea or capsules should be paused after about 2 months.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, potassium deficiency, diabetes, liver disease or kidney dysfunction, you should consult your doctor about taking licorice preparations. This also applies if you are taking cortisone preparations, laxatives or medicines for cardiovascular or kidney function. In general, pregnant and breastfeeding women are not advised to take licorice preparations.

In summary, the antibacterial and antimycotic effects of licorice extracts have been proven for a long time. Even the specific antiviral effect of glycyrrhizin has often been the subject of various studies over the last 15 years. The results on the broadly based efficacy, also very specific with regard to the coronavirus diseases SARS and MERS, have been published many times and practitioners confirm very good results with various natural remedies also for COVID-19 diseases. It would therefore be more than desirable if the population in the current situation was also informed about the successful and effective treatment options of COVID-19 with natural remedies and gained access to these forms of therapy!

Source References:


[3]: Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus; Cinatl J, Morgenstern B, Bauer G, Chandra P, Rabenan H, Doerr HW; Lancet. 2003 Jun 14; 361(9374): 2045-6.

[4]: Curreli F et al. Glycyrrhizic acid alters Kaposi sarcome-associated herpesvirus latency, triggering p53-mediated apoptosis in transformed b lymphocytes. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2005; 115(3): 642-651.

[5]: Mechanism of action of glycyrrhizic acid in inhibition of Epstein-Barr virus replication in vitro; Lin JC; Antiviral Res. 2003 Jun; 59(1): 41-7.

[6]: Glycyrrhizin enhances interleukin-10 production by liver dendritic cells in mice with Hepatitis; Abe M, Akbar F, Hasebe A, Horiike N, Onji M.; Gastroenterol. 2003; 38(10): 962-7.

[7]: Effects of high-dose glycyrrhizin (SNMC: stronger neominophagen C) on hemophilia patients with HIV infection; Mori K, Sakai H, Suzuki S, Akutsu Y, Ishikawa M, Aihara M, Yokoyama M, Sato Y, Sawada Y, Endo Y; International Conference on AIDS; Int Conf AIDS. 1990 Jun 20-23; 6: 394 (abstract no. 2162).