Glycyrrhetinic acid, also known as glycyrrhizic acid, is one of the main bioactive compounds of licorice that is widely used in various foods as a natural sweetener. It’s also used to impart a flavor in a wide array of cosmetic and personal care products. As a therapeutic agent, glycyrrhetinic acid is also the main ingredient in various health formulations because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, anti-allergic, anti-tumor, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, and liver-protective properties.
The medical use of glycyrrhetinic acid dates back to ancient Egyptian times where they used licorice root as a cure-all concoction. This herb also became an important treatment strategy in Chinese medicine. Interestingly, modern clinical trials found that the glycyrrhetinic acid in licorice exerts potent therapeutic effect in a wide array of medical conditions.
Glycyrrhetinic acid is available in alpha and beta forms. The alpha form is present in the highest amounts in the stomach and liver, and it is thought that the dominance of glycyrrhetinic acid in these areas can produce anti-inflammatory effect. On the other hand, beta glycyrrhetinic acid exerts its beneficial effects by reducing lipid peroxidation and increasing antioxidant activity. Glycyrrhetinic acid also works to lower inflammatory substances and free radical levels in the body. Moreover, Glycyrrhetinic acid increases the levels of substances that stimulate gastric acid and mucus secretion in the digestive system.
Glycyrrhetinic acid may benefit people who are overweight or obese. Studies show that this powerful compound has the ability to promote fat loss:
There is also increasing evidence that supports the anti-diabetic effect of glycyrrhetinic acid:
Studies show that glycyrrhetinic acid also has immune-boosting properties that can help fight infection:
Numerous studies also show that glycyrrhetinic acid has potent anti-cancer properties:
Evidence suggests that glycyrrhetinic acid has a protective effect on liver injury through its anti-inflammatory activity:
Numerous studies suggest that the potent anti-inflammatory properties of glycyrrhetinic acid allow it to treat a multitude of inflammatory conditions:
Glycyrrhetinic acid side effects are very uncommon. There have been some side effects associated with the use of this drug wherein the patient had one of the issues listed below at some point while being on glycyrrhetinic acid. However, these side effects weren’t confirmed to be associated with the treatment and could have been a coincidence and not related to the use of glycyrrhetinic acid. Despite this, it was listed as a side effect associated with glycyrrhetinic acid even though these associated side effects are very uncommon.
Side effects associated with glycyrrhetinic acid may include the following:
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