I hate licorice. So when my mother put a steaming mug of tea in front of me that smelled horribly of the stuff, I wrinkled my nose.

“Drink up,” she said. “It’ll make your throat feel better.”

Traveling to Montana to visit my folks, I’d picked up a bad cold – complete with a raging sore throat.

Dutiful daughter that I am, I drank the tea. And after a few sips, my throat felt better. After I’d finished two mugs, it was like I had no sore throat at all.

What is in this? I wondered.

My nose didn’t mislead me. Turns out the tea’s primary ingredient is organic licorice root. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website concurs that this is commonly used to soothe sore throats.

But that’s not all licorice root can do. According to Dr. Ray Sahelian (www.RaySahelian.com) , an expert in supplements, “Licorice has compounds that can enhance the immune system, provide antioxidant support, support healthy levels of cholesterol, and thin the blood.” He cautions that large amounts of the herb can elevate blood pressure.

If you get a cold this winter, forget sugar-filled lozenges. Instead, try a licorice root brew to ease your symptoms. The tea that worked so quickly for me is called “Organic Throat Coat” by Traditional Medicinals. But if you type “licorice root tea” into Google, you’ll get plenty of other options.

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