Once Again Accepting Visa Cards! | Free Shipping in the Continental US on Orders Over $75!

Herb Spotlight - Licorice

Herb Spotlight - Motherwort - Sun God Medicinals

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)  

Family: Fabaceae

Part Used: Root

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet, Acrid

Energetics: Moistening, Cooling


Herbal Actions: 

Anticatarrhal, Nutritive, Urinary tonic, Demulcent, Phytoestrogenic, Anticancer², Antibacterial, Expectorant, Antiviral, Antimutegin, Emollient, Anti inflammatory,Carminative, Antiallergic, Hepatoprotective5  

Overview:

Licorice has been revered as the go-to homogenizer when compounding herbal formulas due to its innate ability to synergize herbs, and its ability to gently mitigate unwanted symptoms from other herbs. It has been utilized since the beginning of Traditional Chinese medicine. Licorice is one of the original fifty medicinal chinese herbs, and has a wide variety of modern applications.

Botany:

Licorice is a member of the legume family that sprouts vibrant green leaves, and expresses bluish, purple blooms that resemble a pea flower structure. The flowers mature into flat, pod-like fruits, and the cylindrical taproot or rhizome has a dark, reddish bark with a yellow core. It grows best in fertile, well-drained, but moist soil types, and can be easily grown from cuttings of a mature rhizome. Licorice can reach heights of 7 feet tall in ideal conditions.

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Licorice root is harvested once mature, usually after three or four years of undisturbed growth. The root is then processed and dried for storage or immediate use. It is naturalized in the United States in supportive climates, and is native to northwest China and parts of Europe.¹

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Licorice species do exist in the wild in certain areas of Southern Oregon, but are mostly found in mountainous regions of California, as far south as Los Angeles. It’s rarely cultivated in this area, but can be grown as long as care is taken to maintain a balanced environment.  

History and Folklore:

Traditional Chinese Medicine Uses: Licorice has been renown for its nutritive and life-giving abilities; it was used to increase stamina and mitigate fatigue, headaches, and stress. Licorice was known as the harmonizing herb of choice, meaning it was used to enhance multi-herb compounds by increasing the bioavailability of each single herbal constituents. 

The great Chinese herbal master Zhang Zhong Zhing was noted to have used Licorice root in herbal preparations of medicines in 190 AD, but the roots medicinal uses date back much further.

Other Medicinal Uses: In ancient Egypt, Licorice root was used to flavor a popular drink called Mai-sus, and this beverage was found in quantity in the tomb of King Tut. Ancient Romans would use Licorice to clear the voice and to quickly alleviate hunger and thirst.³

In a recent study, Licorice was surveyed as being among the top ten herbs to use in a clinical practice for Western herbalists, as far as efficacy and applicability to a wide variety of medical issues.

Modern Applications:

Licorice is indicated to use with a variety of gastric upsets including flatulence, bloating, nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, and reflux disorders. It is used to support liver diseases4, urinary infections, and respiratory distress due to coughing, a sore throat, or congestion. Licorice makes a great, aromatic flavoring for lozenges, and its mucilaginous properties soothe irritated and inflamed tissues.5  

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Tablespoon of root per cup of water, decocted for at least 15 minutes.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

2-4 mL up to 4 times per day.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Dosage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended dosages are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.  

Precautions:

We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications. Licorice is contraindicated in high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease, liver cirrhosis and cholestatic liver disorders. Chronic licorice use mimics aldosteronism by increasing sodium reabsorption and potassium excretion by the kidneys. This action is due to glycyrrhizin content. Deglycyrrhized licorice has been investigated for its clinical use and safety. Its use has been controversial.5

References:

  1. Glycyrrhiza glabra. (n.d.). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/king1854/glycyrrhiza.html 
  2. Adachi, K., Ohno H., Okudaira, N., Nakashima, H. (2016). Antiviral and Antitumor Activity of Licorice Root Extracts. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27815461 
  3. Licorice Root. (n.d.). www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/licoric-root/profile 
  4. Jung, YS., Kim, SH., Kim, KH., Kim, KJ., Lee, YH. (January 22, 2016). Hepatoprotective effect of licorice, the root of Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fischer, in alcohol-induced fatty liver disease. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26801973 
  5. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Licoriceroot.html   

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.