Toothpaste can be Effective And Sweet

Chemicals From Licorice Show Powerful Antibacterial Activity for Oral Health

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(RxWiki News) There is a balance between flavor and potency with toothpaste. Often, the more effective the formula is, the worse it tastes. Licorice might provide a solution to this dichotomy.

A recent research venture involving toothpaste manufacturer Tom’s of Main and the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi has found that chemical components of licorice strongly inhibit the growth of common oral pathogens.

"Try toothpaste with licorice extract for potency and flavor"

Dr. Stefan Gafner, PhD, the head of research and development for Tom’s of Maine, led a team of researchers on this project.

They isolated compounds from a whole plant extract of Chinese licorice, which they then tested in a laboratory environment for activity against oral pathogens. The researchers tested the licorice with common bacteria that cause enamel decay and gingivitis.

Of the eight licorice compounds they tested, only licoricidin and licorisoflavan A showed a significant ability to inhibit these bacteria strains.

Licorisoflavan A slowed the growth of four out of five of the tested bacteria strains, while licoricidin was effective against all five.

In addition to inhibiting bacterial growth, these two compounds also inhibited the release of lipopolysaccharide, a toxin secreted from dead bacterial cell walls.

Licorice has been used for thousands of years by European and Asian medicine traditions, and is generally regarded as safe.

There are some side effects that can occur from over consumption of licorice, such as water retention and high blood pressure. However, the tiny amounts ingested from teeth brushing is unlikely to cause these effects.

This study was completed in 2011 and published on November 10 in the Journal of Natural Products. The funding was provided by Tom’s of Maine. 

Last Updated:
February 28, 2012