The licorice plant is erect, standing about 1.5 meters tall with spikes bearing lilac-colored flowers with bean-like pods containing three or four seeds. The main root (taproot) descends up to a meter into the ground and sends out a network of rhizomes. These roots and rhizomes are harvested after three to five years. The rhizomes have a woody appearance with a brown skin and yellow, fibrous interior.

Therapeutic Uses

Internal Uses:
  • Licorice is used internally for asthma, bronchitis, coughs, peptic ulcer, arthritis, allergic complaints and after steroid therapy.
  • It is said to accelerate the healing of peptic ulcers and is used in cases of adreno-corticoid insufficiency.
  • It is also used in Chinese medicine to revitalize the heart and treat palpitations, boosting the spleen, for coughing and wheezing, as well as detoxifying the body and digestive system.
  • The roots (liquorice sticks) are chewed as candy.
External Uses:
  • It is used externally for eczema, herpes and shingles and the anti-inflammatory effect of this herb is most useful for treating pruritus, piles, sunburn, as well as insect bites.
  • Since it is intensely sweet, it is often used as a sweetening agent to mask the taste of medicinal formulas.

Known As

Botanical Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra
Other Names: Sweetwood, sweetroot, black sugar, liquorice, regliss (French), lakritze (German), liquirizia (Italian), regaliz (Spanish), mulethi (Hindi), European Licorice

Safety Precautions and Warnings

There is a small possibility of effecting electrolyte balance with extended use of large doses of licorice. It has an ACTH like effect causing retention of sodium thus raising BP. The whole herb has constituents that counter this but it is best to avoid Licorice if the patient has hypertension, kidney disease or during pregnancy.

It may interfere with the calcium and potassium absorption. Do not use if you are suffering from osteoporosis, hypertension (increases water around heart). Take with boiled milk.

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