Licorice is of special importance to women and has been used in women's formulas for centuries. It has estrogenic and other steroidal properties and is used to normalize and regulate hormone production. Glycyrrhizin, a major component of licorice root, is structurally similar to adrenal cortical hormones. It has proven especially helpful in treating adrenal exhaustion, infertility due to hormonal imbalance, menopausal dysfunctions, and Addisons disease.
Many herbalists regard licorice as a natural alternative to hydrocortisone and it is used in many formulations to activate and increase the effects of other herbs. It acts much like your body's own natural corticosteroids. Licorice decreases generation of damaging molecules called free radicals at the site of inflammation and it inhibits an enzyme that's involved in the inflammatory process. The herb's action as a fast-acting anti-inflammatory agent is due to the compound glycyrrhizin, a compound that is chemically similar to the corticosteroids released by the body's adrenal glands. Glycyrrhizin blocks prostaglandin production and inflammation. Although it supports the body's release of cortisol, it also inhibits some of the more detrimental side effects of that hormone's presence. Licorice is also a excellent demulcent, and expectorant commonly used for throat, stomach, urinary, and intestinal irritations.