Licorice Root used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may help to Prevent or Treat COVID-19

We are living in an age of a raging pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 also known as COVID-19. COVID-19 has killed more than a million people worldwide. Many of those who survived the initial onslaught of COVID-19 have been left with all kinds of pains, extreme fatigue, cognitive problems and heart and lung damage that can go on for months. Researchers all over the world are working furiously to try to develop a safe and effective vaccine or a way to safely treat this disease. One possibility exists in natural antiviral herbs like licorice root glycyrrhiza glabra and common myrtle myrtis communis that could possibly provide an effective prevention, treatment or cure.

Glycyrrhizin in Licorice Root was able to Inhibit Growth of SARS Coronavirus 1 in 2003

Licorice root is a powerful antiviral herb that also has anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used for thousands of years for respiratory diseases. Glycyrrhizin, a compound found in licorice root was shown in research to be able to inhibit the growth of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 1 that broke out in China in 2002 and spread to several countries. This study carried out in Frankfurt University, Germany was published June 24, 2003 in the LANCET journal. The researchers experimented with several antiviral substances and glycyrrhizin was found to have the best results for inhibiting the growth of SARS coronavirus 1. Not only did the glycyrrhizin inhibit the growth of the SARS coronavirus 1, but it also stopped the virus from penetrating and being absorbed into cells. Unfortunately, no further follow up research was carried out on SARS coronavirus 1, possibly because it died out in 2004.

Glycyrrhizin can Cause Side Effects

Glycyrrhizin had been previously used for treating chronic hepatitis C virus and HIV-1. As these treatments extended over a long period of time, some people developed side-effects of high blood pressure and low levels of potassium (hypokalemia). However, the researchers did not think that this would be a problem for treating SARS coronavirus 1 patients, as they surmised that this antiviral treatment would only need to be used for a short period of time.

Check with your doctor or a doctor of integrated medicine about the safety of using licorice root. It is not recommended to try to treat yourself even though it can be purchased over the counter. Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 must be under skilled medical care.

Glycyrrhizin may be able to Treat SARS Coronavirus 2 (COVID-19)

Since SARS coronavirus 2 (COVID-19) is believed to share 79.5% of the genetic makeup of SARS coronavirus 1, it is possible that glycyrrhizin might also be able to treat COVID-19. Hopefully, scientists will now test glycyrrhizin to see if it will also be able to stop infection by COVID-19.

Chinese Study Shows that Liquiritin found in Licorice Extract may be able to Treat COVID-19

A recent Chinese study by researchers in Beijing found that liquiritin, a flavonoid found in licorice extract from Chinese licorice Glycyrrhiza uralensis may have the potential to treat COVID-19. Results of this preliminary preprint that has not yet been peer reviewed were published May 2, 2020 on the bioRxiv website. The researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) and found that liquiritin mimicked the antiviral action of Interferon 1. This inhibited the growth of SARS coronavirus 2 and protected cells from infection. Liquiritin is readily found in tablets that are used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Liquiritin with its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuro protective and antidepressant properties has also been used in China to treat patients with heart disease.

More than 90% of people in China who Contracted COVID-19 were Treated with TCM

More research should be done to confirm that glycyrrhizin and liquiritin found in licorice root can stop COVID-19. Licorice root is one of the most popular herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), more than 90% of people in mainland China who contracted COVID-19 were treated with TCM. This, plus the fact that China applied strict lockdowns and restrictions on travel may be the reason that China with over 1 billion people claims to have had only 4,634 deaths from Covid-19. Today, while COVID-19 is raging all over the world, COVID-19 has been almost completely eradicated from China. While it cannot be proven that TCM is the reason that China had so few fatalities from COVID-19, nonetheless, a Chinese expert in TCM was honored and awarded for saving lives from COVID-19.

Common Myrtle has Strong Antiviral Properties

Common myrtle myrtus communis has strong antiviral properties and has been shown scientifically to be able to treat many different kinds of viral infections including influenza type A, herpes and retrovirus. In folk medicine common myrtle has been used to treat sinusitis, lung disorders, whooping cough and the common cold coronavirus. Common myrtle also has been used to treat parasites including malaria and tuberculosis. Hopefully, researchers will now test myrtus communis to see if it can also help to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Side Effects of Common Myrtle

Unlike licorice root which can raise blood pressure, common myrtle can lower blood pressure, so it must be used with caution by people on blood pressure lowering medications. It can also lower blood sugar levels, so it must not be used by diabetics without the permission of doctors.

Check with your doctor or a doctor of integrated medicine about the safety of using common myrtle.

To see more about common myrtle, licorice root and steps to take to prevent COVID-19 see our post from October 3, 2020.


We can only hope and pray that a preventive vaccine, a cure or treatment will be discovered to stop the COVID-19 pandemic or that it will die out like the first SARS breakout of 2002-2004.