(glycyrrihiza glabra)

What is Licorice?

Its main component is glycyrrihizin which is fifty times sweeter than sugar. Unfortunately, it is also toxic in its natural state, so a deglycyrrihizinated version is used in herbal medicine.

This herb is recorded on Assyrian tablets and Egyptian papyri denoting its use for over 3,000 years with the Dominican Black Friars introducing it to England in the fifteenth century.

Much confectionery referred to as "licorice" has actually been flavoured with aniseed oil.

It blends with a variety of other herbs very well, thus creating harmony between them all, it also masks the bitter taste of herbs making them more palatable.

Other names :

Sweetwood, liquorice.

Description and the places it grows in :

Herbaceous perennial grown in Europe and West Pakistan.

Parts used :


Properties :

Demulcent, expectorant, laxative, spasmodic and anti-inflammatory.

Click here to read our Herbal Glossary of Terms.

Used for:

  • Endocrine system : Adrenal glands - in the body the glycyrrhizin yields glycyrhetinic acid which has a similar structure to the hormones of the adrenal cortex and its adrenal like effect makes it anti-allergic.

  • Digestive system : Gastritis, colic. It lowers stomach acid and relieves heartburn.

  • Stomach Ulcers - spreads a protective gel over the lining of the stomach and eases spasms.
  • Respiratory system : Bronchitis.

  • Coughs - it reduces irritation and speeds up recovery. The Ancients used it in cough remedies, it reduces irritation and is also an expectorant.

Constituents :

Glycyrrhizin, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, saposins, starch, sugars, triterpenoid, coumarins, sterols, amino acids, gums, amines, volatile oils.

Contraindications :

Increases blood pressure when taken in large doses so it should not be used by anyone who is being treated for high blood pressure.

It can make some people retain water as is causes the body to retain sodium but lose potassium.

Large doses can bring on shortness of breath and headaches.

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