Scientists have pinpointed two substances in liquorice that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.
In a study in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, the team says these substances may have a role in treating and preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Stefan Gafner and his colleagues explain that the dried root of the liquorice plant is a common treatment in Chinese traditional medicine, especially as a way to enhance the activity of other herbal ingredients or as a flavouring.
To test whether the sweet root could combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities, the researchers took a closer look at various substances in liquorice.
They found that two of the liquorice compounds, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, were the most effective antibacterial substances.
These substances killed two of the major bacteria responsible for dental cavities and two of the bacteria that promote gum disease.
One of the compounds – licoricidin – also killed a third gum disease bacterium.
The researchers say that these substances could treat or even prevent oral infections.