Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Dried licorice root fights the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease (with related alternative medicine links)

From the 4th January 2012 Science Daily article

Scientists are reporting identification of two substances in licorice — used extensively in Chinese traditional medicine — that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, the leading causes of tooth loss in children and adults. In a study in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, they say that these substances could have a role in treating and preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Stefan Gafner and colleagues explain that the dried root of the licorice plant is a common treatment in Chinese traditional medicine, especially as a way to enhance the activity of other herbal ingredients or as a flavoring. Despite the popularity of licorice candy in the U.S., licorice root has been replaced in domestic candy with anise oil, which has a similar flavor. Traditional medical practitioners use dried licorice root to treat various ailments, such as respiratory and digestive problems, but few modern scientific studies address whether licorice really works. (Consumers should check with their health care provider before taking licorice root because it can have undesirable effects and interactions with prescription drugs.) To test whether the sweet root could combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities, the researchers took a closer look at various substances in licorice.

They found that two of the licorice compounds, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, were the most effective antibacterial substances. These substances killed two of the major bacteria responsible for dental cavities and two of the bacteria that promote gum disease. One of the compounds — licoricidin — also killed a third gum disease bacterium. The researchers say that these substances could treat or even prevent oral infections.

Related Resources

  • Drugs and Supplements (sponsored by the Mayo Clinic)
    Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals.  

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

  • HerbMed® 
    an interactive, electronic herbal database – provides hyperlinked access to the scientific data underlying the use of herbs for health. It is an impartial, evidence-based information resource provided by the nonprofit Alternative Medicine Foundation, Inc. This public site provides access to 20 of the most popular herbs.
  • Herbs at a Glance (US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)
    a series of fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.
  • Herbal Links
    a compilation of  sites that the researchers at the University of Iowa Drug Information Service consider to be the highest quality and most useful to pharmacists for finding information concerning herbal medicines.

January 5, 2012 - Posted by | Consumer Health | , , ,

2 Comments »

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