Benefits of Liquorice for Cognitive Function
There are approximately 300 bioactive compounds in liquorice root. Many of these compounds have neuroprotective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There are few direct studies using extracts of the whole root. Instead, as is common, the studies tend to focus on particular phyto-chemical extracts.
A 2004 study by Thekkapet et al used an extract of liquorice root called Carbenoxolone in two separate groups; elderly men and type 2 diabetics. The study found that the liquorice extract produced significant improvement in verbal fluency, (which is variously described as a test of executive function and of semantic memory) in healthy unmedicated elderly men and in verbal memory in patients with type 2 diabetes. Although the studies were small, the authors were tempted to suggest that carbenoxolone directly acts on central nervous system cells, reducing intraneuronal glucocorticoid levels and improving cognitive functions.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Herbal Sciences looked at how liquorice contains neuroprotective compounds that benefit stroke patients. Ischemic stroke is a stroke characterized by the blocking of a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. Approximately 87 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes
The results of the study “support the beneficial effect of whole liquorice extract in neurologic improvement of patients with acute ischemic stroke. Liquorice may be useful as a medication for the treatment of the adverse effects caused by acute ischemic stroke.”
Liquorice and Dementia
A 2013 animal study found that an extract of liquorice root improved memory scores and that the extract could provide therapeutic benefits for neurodegenerative diseases associated with cognitive deficits and neuroinflammation such as Alzheimer’s disease