Licorice rhizome as Adaptogen for Scleroderma and Other Immune Disorder~^^~
Posted Sep 11 2009 4:57pm
The idea of using tonic remedies to restore balance and health in a person is an ancient idea. The word and concept of an “ adaptogen ” is a relatively new way of describing a type of remedy commonly found in traditional Chinese (Qi tonic), African (Manyasi), Tibetan, Ayurvedic (Rasayana), and Cherokee medicine. The actual word adaptogen was first used by a Soviet scientist,
Dr. Nikolai Lazarev, who under grants from the military, was researching substances which produced a “state of nonspecific resistance (SNIR)”. The idea was to find ways to enhance the productivity and performance of soldiers, athletes, and workers without using dangerous stimulants. Much of the early research into adaptogens was done by Dr. I.I. Brekhman who, in the late 1950’s, studied Panax ginseng. Looking for a less expensive and more available substitute, he changed his focus to a native Russian shrub, Eleutherococcus senticosis. His first monograph of this now popular herb (Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero) was published in 1960.
In 1969 Brekhman and Dardymov defined the general pharmacological properties of adaptogenic substances. These include: a.) The substance is relatively non-toxic to the recipient. b.) An adaptogen has “non-specific” activity and acts by increasing resistance of the organism to a broad spectrum of adverse biological, chemical, and physical factors. c.) These substances tend to help regulate or normalize organ and system function within the organism.
Several theories have been suggested to explain the effects of adaptogenic substances. One theory proposed by Dardymov and Kirkorian9 argues that adaptogens function primarily due to their antioxidant and free radical scavenging effects. While their theory is partially accurate, it is inadequate to explain the full effects of these medicinals.
Gan Cao (Licorice) is a versatile and commonly used herb in TCM, Unani-Tibb and European herbal traditions. It is an immune amphoteric and can be useful for autoimmune disorders (Lupus, Scleroderma, Crohn’s disease, R.A.) as well as immune deficiency conditions (cancer, HIV, CFIDS). It strengthens adrenal function and can be used with Panax ginseng for Addison’s disease. It is also useful for allergies, ulcers, elevated cortisol levels, PCOS (with Serenoa and Paeonia), and spasmodic coughs.
Excess doses of Licorice can have a hyperaldosterogenic effect (increased retention of sodium and excretion of potassium). Women are more sensitive to this effect than men and patients with hypertension should avoid using this herb on a continual basis.