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09: Licorice Root for Horses
Episode 95th December 2023 • Healing Horses with Elisha • Elisha Edwards
00:00:00 00:23:36

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This week, I discuss one of the plants I use frequently in my equine health programs. 

Licorice root is widely known for its unmistakable sweetness and distinct flavor. In addition to being a popular ingredient in the culinary arts, it has many medicinal properties. It has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine, and has been the subject of extensive research due to the pharmacological activities of its constituents. 

Licorice Root Contains Glycyrrhizin 

Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, a plant glycoside fifty times sweeter than sucrose. Despite its sweetness, glycyrrhizin does not affect the glycemic index, making it safe for horses with insulin resistance concerns.

Glycyrrhizin Becomes Glycyrrhizin Acid

After being metabolized by the gastrointestinal tract, glycyrrhizin becomes glycyrrhizin acid, an acidic compound well-known for therapeutic properties related to the adrenal glands. That is particularly significant for horses with metabolic conditions, such as insulin resistance and Cushing's, where the adrenal glands respond to emotional and physical stressors.

Adrenal Glands and Stress 

The adrenal glands are essential for the fight-or-flight response because they produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol during stress. Prolonged cortisol production due to chronic stress may lead to adrenal burnout, something we see in horses experiencing fatigue, depression, pain, and long-term inflammation. It is essential to notice and address adrenal burnout, as it could intensify health issues like compromised immunity and muscle wasting.

The Role of Licorice Root in Adrenal Support

Licorice root is a natural ally for supporting adrenal health. It helps to manage equine stress levels by mitigating adrenal fatigue, reducing inflammation, and alleviating various conditions associated with chronic stress. 

The Role of Glycyrrhizin Acid

The glycyrrhizin acid in licorice root interferes with the breakdown of cortisol by inhibiting its premature inactivation in the liver and kidneys. That unique characteristic allows for more cortisol availability in the body, which is helpful for horses struggling with elevated cortisol levels. 

The Multi-Faceted Benefits of Licorice Root

Licorice root has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, making it a valuable addition to a horse's diet for their overall health and wellness and boosting their immune system. 

Licorice Root is helpful for Insulin-resistant horses

Licorice root contains flavonoids and triterpenoids, which have anti-diabetic properties that enhance insulin receptor sensitivity and glucose utilization, making it a valuable supplement for insulin-resistant horses.

Leaky Gut Issues 

Licorice root can be helpful for horses with leaky gut issues, as it inhibits detrimental bacterial strains and fosters a healthier gut environment.

Managing Ulcers and Boosting Immunity

Licorice root discourages ulcer-causing bacteria and promotes mucus production for intestinal lining protection and repair. It also has immune-boosting capabilities, particularly for combating viruses like influenza and herpes, making it a valuable natural option for supporting a horse's immune system. 

Guidelines for Safe Usage

While incorporating licorice root into your horse's health program can yield various benefits, cautious and purposeful usage is essential. It is advisable to start with a low dosage and monitor the horse to see how it responds. Short-term use is best because licorice root can have a mineral corticoid effect, which could impact sodium retention and potassium levels. 

A Purposeful and Targeted Approach

Maintain a purposeful and targeted approach when incorporating licorice root into your horse’s health program. That will ensure it becomes a supportive component for addressing specific health concerns without compromising the horse's overall well-being. 




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