Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles say that certain compounds found in licorice have the ability to prevent cavity formation in teeth. The scientists found that two compounds found in plant roots that are potent inhibitors of Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that is responsible for tooth decay.
This plant root is used to manufacture licorice candy. The details of this study are to appear in the Feb. 24 print version of the Journal of Natural Products, a monthly peer-reviewed joint publication of the American Chemical Society and the American Society of Pharmacognosy. Qing-Yi Lu, Ph.D., a chemist at UCLA's School of Medicine, and Wenyuan Shi, Ph.D, a microbiologist at UCLA's School of Dentistry, who authored this study say that further studies are needed to confirm the usefulness of the compound. They added that if it was verified, then licorice could be used in mouthwashes and toothpastes. Licorice is recognized as an important herb in Chinese medicine, but is now finding use in Western medicine and researchers are now looking at it with interest since it is linked with preventing inflammation, ulcers and even cancer.
Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society