Licorice can help digestion


July 19, 1998|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Q.I have a troublesome digestive problem resulting from complications of hiatal hernia surgery several years ago. Recently I was quite nauseated and sucked on a hard licorice candy. To my amazement, it relieved my symptoms.

I don't know if this is in my head or whether licorice has any harmful side effects. I now have three or four pieces of licorice a day. My only other health problem is high blood pressure, for which I take medication.

A.Licorice has a long history as a healing herb. Some of the components of licorice root help reduce acid secretion and protect the lining of the stomach from damage.

Too much licorice can be a problem, however. One ounce or more of natural licorice candy a day can raise blood pressure, deplete potassium and cause hormonal imbalance. If your blood pressure starts to creep up, cut back on the candy.

Q. When my doctor prescribed Premarin and Provera 12 years ago to keep my bones strong, I didn't question him. More recently I've been on Prempro. I worry about breast cancer and would like more information about estrogen and natural alternatives.

A.Estrogen protects against osteoporosis but is not the only approach. Medications such as Evista, Fosamax and calcitonin are all beneficial. Exercise, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are also important.

Plants containing natural estrogens include soybeans, rye, alfalfa sprouts, chickpeas and flax seed. Herbs such as blue cohosh, dong quai, licorice and hops have estrogen-like activity, but there is no information on whether they promote breast cancer or protect against it.

Pub Date: 7/19/98

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