Question: My aunt used to give us licorice when we hada sore throat. Does it have any medicinal benefits?

Answer: Your aunt was right Licorice is not just a flavoring for candy. It’s a root with a formidable ancient reputation as medicine. Licorice has been used for sore throats and as a cough remedy. New studies suggest licorice is powerful and works as an anti-cavity, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and immune stimulating “drug.”

At a scientific conference in 1994 in Washington, D.C., a study was presented which said that the active constituent of licorice, glycnhuizic acid, is an antiviral agent that may suppress the development of AIDS. The Japanese study reported that 16 hemophiliacs infected with the AIDS virus were given oral doses of licorice tincture for three to seven years. There was no progression to AIDS and there were no side effects.

Benefits come from real licorice, not from anise or synthetic flavorings used in this country in licorice candies. Panda licorice, made in Finland, which we love at Debra’s Natural Gourmet (I give it out each year for Halloween at my house), contains real licorice. There are also herbal teas which contain licorice.