Toxins Are Hidden Everywhere in Life: The Herb Licorice Can Help Clean the Body

A traditional Chinese dessert — Mung Bean Sweet Soup.

Eating a bowl of mung bean soup made with licorice can help the body detoxify. (Image: Lcc54613 via Dreamstime)

There are many toxins in our modern daily lives, such as contaminated water, food containers with lead compounds, food with various additives, polluted air, and deep-sea fish contaminated with heavy metals, to name just a few. After these toxins enter the human body, they will gradually accumulate. Getting rid of these toxins is very difficult, but Chinese medicine has licorice black bean soup, which can help the body detoxify itself.

Black beans, mung beans, and licorice root are an antidote to many kinds of poisons

Ye Qimin, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician at the Ming Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic, pointed out that medical books quote that licorice together with black bean soup can be used to cure many kinds of poisonous effects. Some people use mung beans instead of black beans, which also has a detoxification effect on the body.

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Black beans nourish the spleen and kidneys and relieve the effects of many kinds of toxins. Both mung beans and licorice have heat-clearing and toxin-resolving functions. It can also support the effectiveness of medicines. Only black beans or mung beans combined with it have these miraculous antidote effects.

Ye Qimin explained that it could neutralize the bitterness of many traditional Chinese medicines. Ancient books advise that it can enhance the properties of the medication and buffer the toxicity of the prescription so that the potent treatment will not hurt the vital qi. Modern research has also found that glycyrrhizic acid in licorice can combine with a variety of alkaloids, amino acids, and metal ions to form a double salt, reducing the toxicity of the original drug.

Licorice root and licorice root powder sitting on a wooden surface.
Ancient books advise that licorice can enhance the properties of Chinese medicine while buffering the toxicity. (Image: Mirzamlk via Dreamstime)

Modern western scientific advances to discover new medicinal compounds are looking at plants to treat the human body. According to the book titled New Look to Phytomedicine, Advancements in Herbal Products as Novel Drug Leads: “Nature has its own way of protecting mankind from the atrocities of illness and diseases by producing natural products of diverse structures and bioactivities, not only necessary for good health but also to combat diverse life-style and infectious diseases including microbial infections caused by virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other parasites.”

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology looked at the role licorice plays in Traditional Chinese Medicine and described it as a “guide drug” because it enhanced the effectiveness of other herbs. The study concluded that: “Regulation of cytochrome P450 enzymes may partially explain the guide effect of licorice in drug interactions.” 

An important note: all things in moderation

While the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “believes that foods containing licorice and its derivatives (including glycyrrhizin) are safe if not consumed excessively,” taking excessive amounts of the herb can create a deficiency of potassium, necessary for regulating the heartbeat. It is also contraindicated for pregnant women. 

How to make licorice black bean soup

Take 60 grams of licorice root and 250 grams of black beans (or mung beans), add water, and cook the two together until the beans become soft.

Licorice black bean soup cannot be used with drugs

In clinical application: “Some people take too many drugs or eat a lot of bad foods, which makes their body very unhealthy. First, they need to take the licorice black bean soup for a week to detoxify the poison and bad things in the body, and then take Chinese medicine,” said Ye Qimin. If you are exposed to toxic substances or chemicals at work or after using insecticides, you can also take licorice black bean soup.

A bowl of Chinese black bean soup.
Detoxify with licorice black bean soup before starting other treatments with Chinese or Western medicine. (Image: Jamesbox via Dreamstime)

People can be easily exposed to lead poisoning in the air, water, paint, colored appliances, children’s toys, and cosmetics. If it stays in the body for a long time, it may even cause cardiovascular problems. We can eat licorice black bean soup to detoxify it.

Licorice black bean soup or licorice mung bean soup is also helpful for body maintenance. It can be eaten for seven consecutive days every month or season.

Ye Qimin reminded that you should not take Chinese or Western medicine during the period of taking the soup because the licorice black bean decoction may eliminate the effect of the medicine. But if you eat mung bean soup, black bean tea, etc., rather than a complete recipe, then it will be okay as long as you don’t take it with Chinese or Western medicine at the same time.


As with all health matters, please ensure that you discuss your plans to take licorice black bean soup for detoxification with your health care professional or physician to ensure that it is an effective mechanism within any course of treatment prescribed for you. 

Translated by Patty Zhang

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