LICORICE (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice’s origins are unknown but its roots are ancient. Bundles of licorice were found in the 3,000-year-old tomb of Tutankhamun, and the species was known to the ancient Greeks who called it “sweet root.” It was historically used in Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, prescribed for soothing sore throats and alleviating diseases of the lungs.
In modern herbal medicine, licorice is known for being anti-inflammatory and helping to reinforce the properties of accompanying herbs. Licorice has tissue-coating (demulcent) properties, and it is possible the body builds up secretions in response to licorice compounds known as triterpene saponins. Practitioners recommend licorice root for mouth ulcers, stomach ulcers, sore throat, coughs, laryngitis, and bronchial infections.
There are 18 species in the genus Glycyrrhiza across the world, usually found in drier regions of northwest China, Mongolia, and Europe. The plant is usually propagated by dividing a root into cuttings and planting these in warm, mild climates.
How to recognize?
European licorice is a perennial and grows 3 to 7 feet tall, with oval inch-long leaflets. Flowers are small, yellow, blue, or purple, and grow on short spikes.
Chinese licorice has 13-17 opposing leaflets and blooms June through August. The rootstock is a taproot, growing to approximately 6 feet underground. The licorice root that is harvested however is not the main taproot, but the rhizomes (‘runner’ roots just below the surface that radiate from the taproot).
Sore Throat, Cough, Anti-viral, Heartburn, Gastritis
How to Use?
Tea: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped licorice root to 2 cups of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes, strain, cool, and drink up to 4 times a day for a week.
Capsule: 380 mg deglycrrhizinated licorice (DGL), 1-2 times a day before meals
Licorice contains a compound known as glycrrhizin, which, if taken for longer than a week, can raise blood pressure and deplete potassium levels. For extended use, deglycrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is an alternative that has extracted this compound. Individuals with high blood pressure, kidney issues, heart troubles, or taking blood thinner or blood pressure medication should be careful about any amount of licorice.