Licorice root extract shows potential as a COVID-19 treatment

Licorice root extract shows potential as a COVID-19 treatment

A number of compounds have been investigated for his or her potential efficacy in opposition to the extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the pathogenic agent that triggered the continuing coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. A current PLoS One research explored the exercise of glycyrrhizin, an natural compound, in opposition to SARS-CoV-2.

Examine: Glycyrrhizin by way of licorice consumption modulates ACE2 and HMGB1 ranges—A pilot research in wholesome people with implications for COVID-19 and ARDS. Picture Credit score: Scisetti Alfio /


Glycyrrhizin is a licorice alkaloid from the licorice root related to sure antiviral and anti inflammatory properties. As well as, this compound is taken into account liable for the therapeutic exercise of this root, which has been extensively used to deal with coughs, colds, and respiratory infections, significantly by conventional Chinese language medication (TCM) practitioners.

Glycyrrhizin may cut back the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into the host cell, as with different viruses, by inhibiting the exercise of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) host cell receptor. As well as, this compound additionally reduces the exercise of the inflammatory alarmin high-mobility group field 1 (HMGB1).

The present research reviews the impact of glycyrrhizin ingestion on ACE2 and HMGB1 expression in well being. Moreover, the researchers describe adjustments in HMGB1 expression in sufferers with acute respiratory misery syndrome (ARDS) related to COVID-19.

The present research included 20 wholesome people and 23 hospitalized sufferers; 4 had delicate COVID-19, seven had COVID-19 with ARDS, and the remaining had non-COVID-19 ARDS. All sufferers got 50 g of sweets containing 3% licorice root extract.

Sufferers have been adopted up on days three and 7 for HMGB1 and electrolyte ranges, and ACE2 ranges in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).

What did the research present?

The researchers noticed a discount in ACE2 ranges in PBMC membranes following licorice consumption for seven days, from 1.Three at baseline to 0.6 by day seven. This decline in ACE2 degree reached 70% in two sufferers, whereas the degrees decreased by a 3rd or extra in half of the cohort.

On days three and 7, HMGB1 ranges additionally decreased from 7.1 μg/L to six.four and 5.9 μg/L, respectively. Half of the samples declined by 15% or extra.

In ARDS sufferers, with a median age of 66 years, the preliminary HMGB1 ranges have been comparable, no matter the etiology, with a median of 19.6 μg/L and 33.6 μg/L in ARDS-COVID-19 and ARDS with out COVID-19, respectively. This means a rise from baseline ranges in wholesome people by 2.5- and six-fold, respectively.

Delicate COVID-19 sufferers additionally exhibited elevated HMGB1 ranges similar to that of ARDS sufferers at 18.7 μg/L. This may very well be as a result of excessive proportion of sufferers with diabetes mellitus on this group, as that is independently related to raised HMGB1 ranges.

HMGB1 ranges in non-COVID ARDS sufferers confirmed a variety of values, with the bottom being 23-fold lower than the best. There have been no adjustments within the blood stress following licorice ingestion.


Within the present research, the 50% discount in ACE2 expression following seven days of licorice consumption may help the usage of licorice for treating SARS-CoV-2 an infection.

Glycyrrhizin is probably going liable for licorice root extract’s pharmacological exercise. This compound has been used all through historical past to deal with respiratory infections, which can be attributed to, at the very least partly, its inhibitory impact on ACE2-mediated viral entry into respiratory cells.

In vitro experiments have proven the flexibility of glycyrrhizin to stop the replication of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, each of which rely on ACE2 for cell entry. This might implicate a double mechanism of motion by glycyrrhizin, through which the agent each instantly inhibits viral replication and reduces ACE2 expression.

Pc simulations confirmed glycyrrhizin able to binding ACE2, thus blocking the receptor from binding the virus to in the end forestall an infection.

Glycyrrhizin can be related to anti-inflammatory exercise, with neutrophils exhibiting decreased oxidative exercise and decrease cytokine manufacturing. Conversely, HMGB1 enhances the severity of irritation attributable to its impact on cytokine launch.

By the demonstrable impact of licorice on HMGB1 ranges, attributable to its binding by glycyrrhizin that subsequently prevents its activation by phosphorylation, the alkaloid may assist mitigate or forestall illness development in COVID-19. This research represents the primary experimental proof of this anti-HMGB1 impact of glycyrrhizin in people.

Essentially the most vital discount in HMGB1 ranges occurred in these with the best ranges in the beginning of the research.

Each ACE2 and HMGB2 expression have been decreased with licorice consumption. This aligns with earlier observations that HMGB1 therapy of alveolar cells will increase the expression of ACE2.

The five-fold rise in HMGB1 ranges beforehand reported in sufferers with extreme COVID-19 in comparison with these with delicate illness is because of it being a damage-associated molecular sample (DAMP) molecule launched by cells following harm or an infection to activate the immune system and induce irritation.

It’s, due to this fact, a possible biomarker and therapeutic goal in conditions with an amazing immune response.”

Notably, the outcomes of this research have been achieved with comparatively low doses of licorice. Additional analysis is required to display the scientific utility of those observations in treating viral illnesses, together with COVID-19.

Journal reference:

Buder, F., Selejan, S., Hohl, M., et al. (2022). Glycyrrhizin by way of liquorice consumption modulates ACE2 and HMGB1 ranges—A pilot research in wholesome people with implications for COVID-19 and ARDS. PLoS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0275181.

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