Botanical name- Glycerrhiza glabra Linn
Family- Leguminoceae
Common name- English- Liquorice, Hindi- Madhuyashti, Sanskrit- Madhuka
Description – It is a native of Southern Europe. A perinneal herb 1-1.5 mtrs in height. Root long, reddish yellow, root and bark give multiple branches. Leaves- compound leaflets. Flowers – pinkish. Pods- 3 cm long, flat. It contains 2-5 squared seeds. Flowers in summer and seeds in rainy season
Part used – Roots
Chemical constituents- Triterpene saponins-Glycyrrhizin (glycyrrhizic acid) is the major saponin, responsible for the sweet taste of liquorice, and its aglycone, glycyrrhetinic acid; together with other derivatives and glycosides such as glycyrrhizol, glabrins A and B, glycyrrhetol, glabrolide, isoglabrolide and others.
Flavonoids and Isoflavonoids - Liquiritin, which during drying and storage undergoes partial conversion to isoliquiritin; their aglycones, liquiritigenin and isoliquiritigenin, isolicoflavonol, licoagrodione, glucoliquiritin apioside, prenyllicoflavone A, shinflavone, shinpterocarpin, I-methoxyphyaseollin and rhamnoliquirilin. A variety of isoflavones are also reported form the plant, including formononetin, glabrene, neoliquiritin, hispaglabridin A and B, glabridin, glabrol, 3-hydroxyglarol, glycyrrhisflavone, 4-0-methylglabridin, 3' -hydroxy-4' -0-methylglabridin and many 2-methyl isoflavones.
Coumarins and coumestan drivatives-Herniarin, umbelliferone, C-liqucoumarin, 6-acetyl-5,hydroxy-4-methyl coumarin, glycycoumarin and licopyanocoumarin have been identified.
Phytosterols -Stigmasterol, onocerin, β-Sitosterol and β-amyrin.
Volatile oils --Liquorice contains a trace amount (0,5%) of volatile oil, containing anethole, estragole, eugenol and hexanoic acid as the main constituents.
Traditional uses-It is used as a tonic, laxative, demulcent, expectorant and emollient in many traditional systems of medicine. It finds particular use in cough, catarrh, bronchitis, fever, gastritis, gastric and duodenal ulcers and skin diseases and as a general tonic. It has been applied externally to cuts and wounds and used in the treatment of hyperdipsia, genitourinary diseases and many other minor indications, including as a corticosteroid replacement agent.

Medicinal and pharmacological action-Antiulcer activity: Liquorice has a well-documented antiulcer action, being as effective as cimetidine and pirenzapine in curing peptic ulcer. An Ayurvedic preparation containing liquorice increased β-glucuronidase activity in the Brunner's glands, offering protection against duodenal ulcer.

Hepatoprotedive activity: Liquorice is used traditionally for the prevention of liver diseases. Administration to experimental animals increased the duration of the lag phase of ascorbate free radical oxidation in the liver and myocardium, the antioxidant activity of the root powder being comparable to that of I)-carotene, and markedly decreased lipid peroxides in liver. An alcoholic extract increased the cumulative biliary and urinary excretion of acetaminophen without affecting the thioether or sulphate conjugates and also increased glucuronidation in rats, suggesting it may intluence detoxification of xenobiotics.

Antioxidant adivity: An investigation using the isotlavonoids of liquorice focused on their ability to protect the liver mitochondria against oxidative stresses. This effect was linked with the inhibition of mitochondrial lipid peroxidation-related respiratory electron transport. Glabridin and its derivatives contributed to the antioxidant activity induced by heavy metal ions and macrophages against low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. LDL oxidation is a major factor in the production aetiology of early arteriosclerosis. The isotlavans also showed a potent scavenging effect on the DPPH radical and were able to chelate heavy metals. This action was associated with the hydroxy functional group as well as the hydrophobic moiety of the isotlavans. Glabridin also inhibited the susceptibility ofLDL to oxidation in an atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E deficient and in vitro human LDL oxidation model and prevented the consumption of I)-carotene and lycopene. Further experiments with glabridin and accompanying isotlavans suggested that glabridin is a potent inhibitor of cholesterollinoleate hydroperoxide formation.

Antimicrobial adivity: Extracts containing tlavonoids showed significant antimycotic activity when evaluated using strains of Candida albicans isolated from clinical samples of acute vaginitis. Flavonoid constituents isolated from liquorice hairy root cultures also exhibited antimicrobial activity when tested by the disc diffusion method. Hispaglabridin A and B, glabridin, glabrol, 3-hydroxyglabrol and 4' -O-methylglabridin have demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity.

Anticancer adivity: Liquorice potentiated the antitumour and antimetastatic activity of cyclophosphamide when tested in . metastasising Lewis lung carcinoma. Extracts have been assayed for cytotoxicity in vitro using the Yoshida ascites sarcoma; the petroleum ether extract exhibited a more potent activity than other solvent extracts. Liquorice has also been shown to protect against skin tumorigenesis caused by DMBA (7,12-dimethyl-benz [a] anthracene) initiation and 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) promotion. The latency period of tumour onset was increased and the number of tumours decreased, possibly by inhibiting the carcinogen metabolism after DNA adduct formation.

Antimutagenic adivity: Glycyrrhiza glabra root and its isolated constituents were tested against ethyl methanesulphonate, N-methyl-N' -nitro- N -nitrosoguanidine and ribose-lysine Maillard models of mutagenesis using a Salmonella microsome reversion assay. The extract showed antimutagenic activity against ethyl methanesulphonate and 18-β glycyrrhetinic acid exhibited a significant des mutagenic activity against ribose-lysine mutagenic browning mixture.

Antiinflammatory adivity: Glycyrrhizin inhibited thrombin-induced platelet aggregation, which indicates antiinflammatory activity. It also prolonged plasma recalcification and fibrogen clotting times. Glyderinine, a derivative of glycyrrhizic acid, reduced inflammation via the adrenal cortex, suppressed vascular permeability and allergic and antipyretic activity, without causing haemopoiesis or ulceration.

·         Used as anti-inflammatory and expectorant
·         Useful in irritating cough, sore throat, cold and bronchitis
·         Research found it useful like corticosteroids without their side effects
·         Inhibits the growth of prostate cancer 
·         Helps in reduction of body fat- reduces blood cholesterol
·         Used for oligospermia, increases sperm count

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