If you have acquired sensitivity to the estrogen that circulates in your blood, you may experience melasma — dark spots on the face and body. The chances of that happening increase with hormone treatments for fertility, HRT, or birth control. Other risk factors include estrogen blockers and seizure medications.
Licorice root extract has been used in beauty products for millennia. It acts a tyrosinase inhibitor that prevents melanocytes from pigmenting your skin. It’s a natural skin brightener.
Other amazing titles believed to be a part of its medicinal arsenal include:
- hormone balancer,
- mood enhancer,
- heartburn soother,
- immune system booster,
- heart disease preventer,
- ulcer manager,
- digestive tract helper,
- cold and flu fighter,
- hepatitis and cough healer, etc.
As far as melasma and other hyper-pigmentations are concerned:
“The inadequacy of current therapies to treat these conditions as well as high cytotoxicity and mutagenicity, poor skin penetration, and low stability of formulations led us to seek new whitening agents to meet the medical requirements for depigmenting agents. The inhibitory effect of licorice extract on tyrosinase activity was higher than that expected from the level of glabridin in the extract. This led us to test for other components that may contribute to this strong inhibitory activity.” ~ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
The main cytotoxic agent the JAFC is referring to is hydroquinone, the number one dermatologist prescribed medicine for dark spots and melasma. Hydroquinone has been found to cause cancer in Europe and it has been pulled from the market since 1976. American women use it ubiquitously. Most skin brighteners on the shelves of common supermarkets carry it.
Licorice root, its natural alternative, has been also used as an antidepressant, stress-releasing and a hormonal balancing agent because of its flavonoids and phytoestrogens. It contains glycyrrhizin, a sweet substance that balances adrenal hormones. Licorice root possibly combats chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (when linked to adrenal fatigue).
Its ability to combat dark spots is multi-faceted. On one hand, licorice root is a tyrosinase inhibitor, on another, it is a hormone balancer. It’s also a liver cleanser. Are these factors are interconnected? Medical textbooks are quick to point out that there is no connection between age spots and the liver, while Traditional Chinese Medicine considers them to be the same condition.
The phytoestrogens in licorice are believed to ease PMS-related irritability, bloating and breast tenderness. The glycyrrhizin in licorice inhibits the effect of the body’s own estrogens, plugging their receptors with a milder, phytoestrogen version of the same.
Licorice also appears to enhance immunity. It boosts interferon, a key immune system virus destroyer. It also contains powerful antioxidants, zinc, and its glycyrrhetinic acid is believed to inhibit the growth of many viruses and bacteria.
Warning: Licorice root is contraindicated if you are taking certain medications. Consult your physician prior to use.
The statements on these pages are not evaluated by the FDA and are for informational purposes only. Nothing on this page intends to treat, diagnose or prevent disease. If you suspect that you have a disease or a condition of any type, please see your primary care physician without delay. Consult your physician before taking supplements or changing your diet.
About the Author
Evelina Sodt, PhD is a nationally registered provider of health education services. She is a practitioner, a consultant, and the author of over a dozen books, including Healing Pain, Anxiety, and Inflammation Without Drugs: The Science Behind Natural Medicine. Dr. Ev practices virtually via remote education. She lives in Northern NJ with her husband, daughter, and a cat named Kingston.
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