Licorice root for heart health? When combined with other herbal compounds, it regulates calcium proteins to protect your heart muscle
01/14/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Combining the herbal compounds of Radix aconiti carmichaeli and licorice could regulate calcium proteins and protect the heart, according to a new study.

A team of researchers from Zhejiang Chinese Medical University in China studied whether the active components — aconitine, liquiritin, and glycyrrhetinic acid — found in Radix aconiti carmichaeli and licorice could lead to the regulation of intracellular calcium homeostasis and calcium cycling, which could affirm their therapeutic properties.

The myocardial cells were randomly divided into 12 groups — control, aconitine, nine different dose groups of orthogonal combined with aconitine, liquiritin, and glucyrrhetinic acid, and verapamil. In addition, the research team analyzed the survival rate and structure of the cells in the heart muscle. Moreover, the expression of calcium regulation protein in the myocardial cell was assessed by Western-blotting, which is an analytic technique that is utilized in immunogenetics, molecular biology, and other molecular biology principles to identify specific proteins in a sample of tissue homogenate.

Radix aconiti carmichaeli is a popular Chinese medicinal herb used to treat chronic heart failure. In addition, it is clinically applied in yang depletion and deficiency syndromes and is used to save someone to avoid the likely collapse of yang. It contains cardiotonic, antinociceptive (blocking the detection of painful stimulus by sensory neurons), and anti-inflammatory properties. The primary component of Radix aconiti carmichaeli is aconitine, which is responsible for the pharmacological activity. Aconitine is used in China as an analgesic and blood coagulant. However, aconitine contains high cardiotoxicity which could lead to severe arrhythmia, so its doses need to be regulated.


On the other hand, licorice, the root of glycyrrhiza glabra, primarily contains liquiritin and glycyrrhetinic acid. Combining aconitine with liquiritin and glycyrrhetinic acid increases efficiency and reduces toxicity, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

The research team found that aconitine damaged the myocardial cell, reduced the survival rate and expression of NA+Ca2+ exchangers and dihydropteridine reducta-?1, and enhanced the expression of ryanodine receptor type2. The effectiveness of the combination of aconitine, liquiritin, and glycyrrhetinic acid depends on the dosage. In conclusion, the results indicate that aconitine with liquiritin and glycyrrhetinic acid may regulate the expression of calcium-regulated proteins to defend myocardial cells from damage.

“The orthogonal combination of aconitine with liquiritin and glycyrrhetinic acid may regulate the expression of calcium regulatory proteins to inhibit the cytotoxicity of myocardial induced by aconitine, enhance the calcium regulatory adaption of myocardial cells, maintain the function of heart diastole and systole, and whence achieve the effect of toxicity reducing and efficacy enhancing,” the researchers wrote.

The findings of the study were published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines.

The many other benefits of licorice root

Licorice root is typically used as a sweetener in candies and beverages. Moreover, it has been used for years for its medicinal benefits. The health benefits of licorice root include the following:

  • Relieves stomach problems – Licorice root is used to ease gastrointestinal problems, such as stomach ulcers and heartburn. Its extract can boost the repair of stomach lining and restore balance because the glycyrrhizic acid it contains is anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting. (Related: Licorice Treats Peptic Ulcers and Helicobacter Pylori Infection.)

  • Cleanses the respiratory system – Licorice as an oral supplement can help the body produce clean, healthy phlegm to keep the respiratory system working.

  • Lessens stress – High levels of stress can exhaust the adrenal gland by continuously producing adrenaline and cortisol. Licorice can help the adrenal gland and promote healthy levels of cortisol in the body.

  • Aids in cancer treatment – Some studies suggest that licorice can potentially help in treating breast and prostate cancers. Furthermore, Chinese practices incorporate it into cancer treatment.

  • Supports skin and teeth health – Licorice can treat eczema and tooth decay as it contains antibacterial properties.

Read more stories on other Chinese medicine at

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