Licorice Shown To Kill SARS And Other Lethal Viruses

Licorice Shown To Kill SARS And Other Lethal Viruses

Licorice has a rich and ancient history of use as a medicine, being rooted in Indian, Chinese, Greek and Egyptian traditions, alike. Technically a legume, related to beans and peas, its sweetness results from the presence of glycyrrhizin, a compound 30-50 times sweeter than sugar. This compound is what gave licorice its name, which derives from the Greek word γλυκύρριζα (glukurrhiza), meaning "sweet" (gluku)  "root" (rrhiza). But glycyrrhizin’s properties don’t end with its sweetness; it is also one of the most powerful antiviral compounds ever studied.

A study on glycyrrhizin’s inhibitory activity against SARS-associated coronovirus published in Lancet in June of 2003, received little mainstream media coverage, despite its profound importance to human health.  Mind you, only a few months before this the World Health Organization issued a press release (April 16, 2003) stating the recent outbreak of lethal Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Asia was caused by the same coronoviruses used in this study. With the world still reeling from global SARS hysteria and "preparedness," i.e. stockpiling pharmaceuticals like Ribavirin despite their well-known lack of effectiveness, you would think more attention would have been paid to promising research of this kind...

In the groundbreaking Lancet study, titled "Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus," German researchers summarized their intention in the following manner:
 

"The [recent] outbreak of SARS warrants the search for antiviral compounds to treat the disease. At present time, no specific treatment has been identified for SARS-associated coronavirus infection."

And here is what they found:

"We assessed the antiviral potential of ribavirin, 6-azauridine, pyrazofurin, mycophenolic acid, and glycyrrhizin against two clinical isolates of coronavirus (FFM-1 and FFM-2) from patients with SARS admitted to the clinical centre of Frankfurt University, Germany. Of all the compounds, glycyrrhizin was the most active in inhibiting replication of the SARS-associated virus. Our findings suggest that glycyrrhizin should be assessed for treatment of SARS." [emphasis added]


Licorice’s potent antiviral properties are not limited to SARS-associated coronaviruses, but have also been studied in connection with another epidemic/pandemic capable and potentially lethal virus: influenza.

In an animal study dating all the way back in 1997 and published in the journal Antibacterial Agents and Chemotherapy, titled: "Glycyrrhizin, an active component of licorice roots, reduces morbidity and mortality of mice infected with lethal doses of influenza virus," researchers found that when mice were administered glycyrrhizin at 10mg/kg body weight (the equivalent of 680 mg for a 150lb adult), they all survived a series of ten 50% lethal injections. The control group, on the other hand, only survived an average of 10.5 days, with no survivors by day 21, the end of the experiment.

Even more remarkable, when the splenic T cells from the glycyrrhizin-treated mice were transferred to mice exposed to the same lethal doses of influenza virus, 100% survived, compared to 0% for the control mice inoculated with naive T cells or splenic B cells and macrophages from glycyrrhizin-treated mice. The researchers discovered that glycyrrhizin’s powerful, life-sparing effects against lethal doses of influenza were a result of the compound increasing interferon gamma production by T cells.

In order to fully understand these findings, we must look at the question of safety first. Licorice is still commonly perceived as a "dangerous herb," due to its ability to stimulate blood pressure elevations in susceptible individuals when consumed excessively; but considering the relatively higher toxicity of most drugs, this perception must be taken with a grain of sea salt.  On the other hand, it is important to exercise caution when using licorice, or any herb, for medicinal purposes, and ideally obtaining the assistance of a medical herbalist who can work with conventional health practitioners, whenever possible.

In the United States glycyrrhizin is still classified as "Generally Recognized As Safe," when used as a flavoring agent, but not as a sweetener. It has also been removed from most "licorice" candies, substituted with with the similarly-tasting but taxonomically unrelated anise. In the European Union the recommendation is for people to consume no more than 100 mg a day, which is the equivalent of 50 grams of licorice sweets, and in Japan, where glycyrrhizin is often used as a sugar substitute, a recommended limit is set at 200 mg a day. This should give you a sense for what a commonly considered safe, daily dose is, and puts a 600 mg "therapeutic" dose in perspective.

Also, it is important to consider that even when the glycyrrhizin is isolated and concentrated pharmaceutically, its relative toxicity is extraordinarily low, when compared to antiviral drugs like Ribavirin.

According to the federally mandated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by the manufacturers on pharmaceutically extracted glycyrrhizin and the drug Ribavirin, the former is 30 times less toxic than the later (the mouse oral 50% lethal dose is 9818 mg/kg versus 300 mg/kg for Ribavirin).  It is important to understand, also, that when complexed in the whole root or powdered root form, glycyrrhizin will be treated differently by the body. It will be released slower, will have naturally occurring factors which may attenuate adverse effects, and therefore should be considered safer than the MSDS on isolated glycyrrhizin reflects.

Also consider that glycyrrhizin is much cheaper...

A 200 mg dose of Ribavirin from an online discount pharmacy costs approximately 4 dollars.
   
Let’s take a 1 pound bag of Frontier brand Licorice sticks, which costs $10, and which contains approximately 7% glycyrrhizin or the equivalent of 13,440 milligrams of glycyrrhizin per pound. This is also the equivalent of sixty-seven 200 mg servings.  If I bought sixty-seven 200mg pills of Ribavirin it would cost me 268 dollars. So, that’s 26.8 times the price of the glycyrrhizin found in licorice.  In both cases, the natural compound is approximately 30 times less toxic and less expensive, and let us not forget, in the SARS/licorice study, Ribavirin didn’t even work. So, it is potentially infinitely more effective. Hmmm. I wonder which I would choose if faced with an impending pandemic virus? A drug with low availability, exceedingly high costs and toxicity, and which doesn’t work, versus a time-tested, safe, affordable and highly effective herb?

The reason, of course, why licorice will never be used as an FDA-approved medicine is because it would take at least 800 million dollars of upfront capital to fund the preclinical and human clinical studies necessary to get it to that point.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone to immerse themselves in the first-hand research itself, which we have both lovingly and painstakingly gathered on your behalf. Visit the live reference page on Licorice here, or skim through the remarkable research on Licorice’s potential value in 75 conditions below....

Name Cumulative Knowledge Article Count Focus Articles
Hepatitis C 31 4 focus
Aphthous Ulcer 30 3 focus
Liver Cancer 21 3 focus
Duodenal Ulcer 20 2 focus
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome 20 2 focus
HIV Infections 12 3 focus
Pneumonia 12 2 focus
Cholesterol: Oxidation 10 1 focus
Cytomegalovirus Infections 10 1 focus
Familial Mediterranean Fever 10 1 focus
Gastroduodenal Ulcer 10 1 focus
Helicobacter Pylori Infection 10 2 focus
Hirsutism 10 1 focus
Rosacea 10 1 focus
Testosterone: Too High 10 1 focus
Abdominal Obesity (Midsection Fat) 6 3 focus
Prostate Cancer 4 3 focus
SARS 4 3 focus
Influenza A 3 2 focus
Bleeding: Excessive 2 1 focus
Breast Cancer 2 2 focus
Cervical Cancer 2 2 focus
Chemotherapy-Induced Toxicity: Cisplatin 2 1 focus
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 2 1 focus
Diabetes Mellitus: Type 2 2 1 focus
Epstein-Barr Virus Infections 2 2 focus
Hepatitis 2 1 focus
Hepatitis A 2 2 focus
Hepatitis B 2 2 focus
Hypercholesterolemia 2 1 focus
Hypertension 2 1 focus
Inflammation 2 1 focus
Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Toxicity 2 1 focus
Liver Disease 2 1 focus
Memory Disorders 2 1 focus
Metabolic Syndrome X 2 1 focus
Myocardial Infarction 2 1 focus
Obesity 2 1 focus
Pulmonary Inflammation 2 1 focus
Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections 2 2 focus
Spinal Cord Injuries 2 1 focus
Surgery: Oral 2 1 focus
Trigeminal Neuralgia 2 1 focus
Tumors 2 1 focus
Acne 1 1 focus
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome 1 1 focus
Candida Infection 1 1 focus
Candidiasis: Vulvovaginal 1 1 focus
Chemotherapy-Induced Toxicity: Doxorubicin 1 1 focus
DNA damage 1 1 focus
Encephalitis: Japanese 1 1 focus
Endometrial Cancer 1 1 focus
Endometriosis 1 1 focus
Estrogen Dominance 1 1 focus
Fibroid Tumor 1 1 focus
Fibroids: Uterine 1 1 focus
Gastric Ulcer 1 1 focus
Heavy Metal Toxicity 1 1 focus
Herpes Zoster 1 1 focus
Herpes: Kaposi-Associated 1 1 focus
Iron Overload 1 1 focus
Iron Poisoning 1 1 focus
Kaposi Disease 1 1 focus
Leiomyoma 1 1 focus
Lung Cancer 1 1 focus
Oxidative Stress 1 1 focus
Periodontitis 1 1 focus
Promyelocytic leukemia 1 1 focus
Rotavirus Infections 1 1 focus
Stomach Cancer 1 1 focus
Tuberculosis 1 1 focus
Gastric Cancer 0 1 focus
HIV: Opportunist Infection. 0 1 focus
Influenza: Human 0 1 focus
Preventing Cavities 0 2 focus

View the Evidence: Substances

A Chinese herbal formula containing Paris polyphylla, Dandelion, Woad, and Licorice appears safe and effective in reducing cytomegalovirus infection activity in pregnant women.

Click here to see the entire article

Pubmed Data : Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2000 Apr;20(4):245-7. PMID: 11789257

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Dandelion : CK(86) : AC(30), Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79), Paris polyphylla : CK(10) : AC(1), Woad : CK(21) : AC(3)

Diseases : Cytomegalovirus Infections : CK(85) : AC(33)

Pharmacological Actions : Antiviral Agents : CK(631) : AC(291)

A multi antioxidative treatment in chronic hepatitis C virus patients is well tolerated and therapeutic.

Click here to see the entire article

Pubmed Data : J Clin Gastroenterol. 2005 Sep;39(8):737-42. PMID: 16082287

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Alpha-Lipoic Acid : CK(406) : AC(80), Antioxidant formulas : CK(477) : AC(72), Glutathione : CK(61) : AC(17), Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79), Milk Thistle : CK(226) : AC(55), Schisandra : CK(129) : AC(44), Vitamin C : CK(1208) : AC(238), Vitamin E : CK(1288) : AC(227)

Diseases : Hepatitis C : CK(400) : AC(62)

A skin care regimen containing the Licorice compound Licochalcone A was found to be compatible with the sensitive facial skin of patients with rosacea and improved the appearance of persistent facial redness.

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Pubmed Data : Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2009 Nov-Dec;23(6):e23-8. Epub 2009 Sep 18. PMID: 17177744

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Rosacea : CK(175) : AC(21)

Andrographis, Eleutherococcus (Siberian Ginseng), Schisandra and Glycyrrhiza (Licorice) is safe and efficacious in the management of Familial Mediterranean Fever.

Click here to see the entire article

Pubmed Data : Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2008 Aug;33(16):2022-5. PMID: 12809357

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Andrographis : CK(80) : AC(34), Ginseng (Siberian) : CK(138) : AC(29), Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79), Schisandra : CK(129) : AC(44)

Diseases : Familial Mediterranean Fever : CK(11) : AC(2)

Glabridin, a compound found within licorice, inhibits LDL oxidation.

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Pubmed Data : Toxicol Ind Health. 2009 May;25(4-5):321-4. PMID: 19651803

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Cholesterol: Oxidation : CK(467) : AC(98)

Pharmacological Actions : Antioxidants : CK(3535) : AC(1293), Cardioprotective : CK(627) : AC(185)

Glycerrhiza glabra (syn. Licorice) is therapeutic in patients with protracted pulmonary pneumonia.

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Pubmed Data : Lik Sprava. 2001 Sep-Dec;(5-6):123-5. PMID: 11881346

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Pneumonia : CK(339) : AC(41)

Licorce - Safety Study.

Click here to see the entire article

Pubmed Data : J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Jun;26(3):209-18. PMID: 17634165

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Licorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin which has significantly inhibits HIV replication in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-seropositive patients.

Click here to see the entire article

Pubmed Data : Pathobiology. 2002-2003;70(4):229-36. PMID: 12679601

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : HIV Infections : CK(551) : AC(183)

Additional Keywords : Plant Extracts : CK(3301) : AC(1139)

Licorice may be an effective alternative to the pharmaceutical preparation amlexanox in treating aphthous ulcers.

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Pubmed Data : J Contemp Dent Pract. 2008;9(3):88-98. Epub 2008 Mar 1. PMID: 18335124

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Aphthous Ulcer : CK(131) : AC(13)

Additional Keywords : Natural Substances Versus Drugs : CK(1003) : AC(167), Plant Extracts : CK(3301) : AC(1139)

Licorice reduces pain and lesion size in recurrent aphthous ulcers.

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Pubmed Data : Gen Dent. 2008 Mar-Apr;56(2):206-10; quiz 211-2, 224. PMID: 18348383

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Aphthous Ulcer : CK(131) : AC(13)

Additional Keywords : Plant Extracts : CK(3301) : AC(1139)

Licorice reduces pain, inflammation and necrosis in aphthous ulcers.

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Pubmed Data : Phytother Res. 2009 Feb;23(2):246-50. PMID: 18853400

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Aphthous Ulcer : CK(131) : AC(13)

Licorice reduces serum testosterone in healthy women.

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Pubmed Data : Steroids. 2004 Oct-Nov;69(11-12):763-6. PMID: 15579328

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Hirsutism : CK(60) : AC(6), Polycystic Ovary Syndrome : CK(289) : AC(28), Testosterone: Too High : CK(60) : AC(6)

Licorice reduces the side effects of spironolactone in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Pubmed Data : Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2007 Mar;131(1):61-7. Epub 2006 Nov 17. PMID: 17113210

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Licorice : CK(254) : AC(79)

Diseases : Polycystic Ovary Syndrome : CK(289) : AC(28)

Additional Keywords : Drug-Plant-Vitamin Synergies : CK(1011) : AC(275)

Licorice reverses duodenal ulceration.

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Pubmed Data : Antiviral Res. 2006 Dec;72(3):242-51. Epub 2006 Jul 14. PMID: 772652

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