Friday, March 14, 2008

The Links Between Licorice & Reduced Teeth Decay & Lowered Levels of Cavity


I saw on the news today about the new dental lolipops created by the Chinese doctor at UCLA that utilize the benefits of licorice to help prevent dental decay and decrease cavities in children and adults.

As usual, I was curious about how this worked. I knew that licorice is utilized to help treat bronchitis as well as quell stomach ulcers.

Well, turns out that the same to key therapeutic element in the licorice herb that promotes mucus production and reduces enzyme activities also helps the teeth. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, the power behind cavity prevention. Cavities are a result of lingering bacteria in the mouth- the main condition rooted in bacteria production is delayed and prevented by licorice.

Only 15 milligrams of licorice powder eliminates 99.9 percent of Streptococcus mutans, a common bacterium that could release harmful cavity-causing acids.

Before cavities appear, bacteria in the mouth produce acids that create holes in the top layer of the teeth. Streptococcus mutans is particularly harmful and causes a large percentage of these holes.

Importantly, the extract does not kill the other bacteria in the mouth necessary for good oral health.

Glycyrrhizin, the sweet compound in licorice root, specifically reduces the activity of two enzymes that break down prostaglandin E (PGE). Lower than normal levels of PGE have been associated with stomach disorders including colic, stomach inflammation, and ulcers. By inhibiting the body's disposal of PGE, glycyrrhizin allows more PGE to circulate in the body which is believed to promote the production of stomach mucus, whereby decreasing the production of painful and potentially dangerous stomach acids that lead to many stomach conditions. Both effects help to protect stomach tissue; consequently, true licorice has been used in connection with ulcers and other stomach conditions. Glycyrrhizin also promotes the production of mucus in the respiratory tract. This increase may make the respiratory tract mucus less sticky and may also promote its removal from the body.

I think we'll be seeing more licorice in natural toothpaste and mouthwash to help naturally treat good dental hygiene.

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Have a question about licorice and it's connection to cavity prevention?


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