Licorice is a natural treatment for ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a currently incurable condition that causing debilitating pain and potentially life-threatening symptoms. A study published in Chinese Herbal Medicines discusses the potential of licorice (Glycyrrhizae Radix or Liquiritiae Radix) as a treatment for the condition.

  • The researchers induced UC in a mouse model by administering acetic acid and dextran sulfate sodium. These were given after the animals were pretreated with licorice flavonoids (LF) (100, 200, and 400 mg/kg), 0.9% saline solution (20 mL/kg), or sulfasalazine (SASP) (600 mg/kg), a medication commonly prescribed for UC, for 10 days.
  • The animals were sacrificed and their colons were studied. In the mice with acid-induced UC, the researchers noted reduced the wet weight/length ratio of the colon, percentage of affected area, macroscopic and histological damage scores. They also noted lower levels of oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory cytokines, upregulated nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway, and downregulated nuclear transcription factor kappa B pathway.
  • In animals with DSS-induced UC, the authors noted antiulcer effects courtesy of the LF.
  • A quantitative analysis of the chemical components of LF using High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) revealed the presence of licochalcone A, glabrone, licoflavone, and licoflavone B.

The researchers took their findings as proof that the flavonoids in licorice have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that make LF a potentially effective treatment for UC.

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Journal Reference:

Liu D-Y, Gao L, Zhang J, Huo X-W, Ni H, Cao L. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AND ANTI-OXIDANT EFFECTS OF LICORICE FLAVONOIDS ON ULCERATIVE COLITIS IN MOUSE MODEL. Chinese Herbal Medicines. 2017;9(4):358–368. DOI: 10.1016/s1674-6384(17)60116-3

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