Spanish licorice; Russian licorice, liquorice; réglisse
(French); Lakritze, Süssholz (German); Spanish Juice, Black
Sugar, Liquorice; Radix Liquiritiae (root), Succus
Liquiritiae (extract); Arpsous, Arq-sous (Arabic);
Jashtimodhu (Bengali); Noekiyu (Burmese); Kan tsau, Gancao
(Chinese); Lakrids, Lakridsplante (Danish); Zoethout
(Dutch); Lagritsa-magusjuur (Estonian); Shirin bajan
(Farsi); Lakritskasvi, Lakritsi (Finnish);
(Greek); Jethimadh (Gujrati); Jethimadh, Mulhathi (Hindi);
Édesfa, Igazi édesgyökér (Hungarian);
Lakkrís (Icelandic); Liquirizia (Italian); Kanzou
(Japanese); Yasthimadhuka (Kannada): Sa em (Laotian);
Yashtimadhukam (Malayalan); Jesthamadha (Marathi); Lakrisrot
(Norwegian); Lukrecja gladka (Polish); Muleti (Punjabi);
Lakrichnik (Russian); Madhuka, Yashtimadhu (Sanskrit);
Atimaduram (Singhalese); Orozuz, Ragaliz (Spanish); Susu
(Swahili); Lakrits (Swedish); Atimaduram (Tamil);
Atimadhuramu (Telugu); regaliz, Yerba Dulce, Palo Cuate,
Licorice is one of the most
widely used medicinal plants.
Pencil-like pieces of the
dried runners consisting of yellow fibrous wood are chewed
for their sweetness.
The plant is perennial,
reaching 2 m in height from a root system of taproots,
branch roots, and meter long runners.
It often covers large
areas in southern Italy, Spain, and Russia and other
countries east of the Mediterranean
as far as
It’s occasionally found
growing wild in dry, open habitats but more often found
The woody stems bear a
graceful foliage of dark green leaves, with pairs of narrow,
lance-shaped leaflets on a stalk terminating in one odd
leaflet. Licorice has a thick, dark reddish-brown root,
which is yellowish inside, from which spring horizontal
stolons and very long rootlets.
It grows to a height of 60
in and has leaves divided into several pairs of almost
opposite leaflets with a central, apical leaflet, and they
contain numerous oil glands which make them sticky.
The bluish-purple flower
spikes spring from the leaf axils and bloom from July to
September, succeeded by small, smooth pods containing dark,
Requires a deep well cultivated
fertile moisture-retentive soil for good root production.
Prefers a sandy soil with abundant moisture and does not
flourish in clay. Slightly alkaline conditions produce the
best plants. The plant thrives in a maritime climate.
Plants are hardy to about
Liquorice is often
cultivated for its edible root which is widely used in
medicine and as a flavoring. There are some named varieties.
The ssp glandulifera grows in Russia and produces adventitious
roots up to 10 cm thick. Yields of 10 - 12 ton per hectare
were considered good in the early 20th century, this only
being attained in the fourth year of growth. Unless seed is
required, the plant is usually prevented from flowering so
that it puts more energy into producing good quality roots.
The bruised root has a
characteristic sweet pungent smell.
Plants are slow to settle
in and do not produce much growth in their first two years
after being moved. The young growth is also very susceptible
to damage by slugs and so the plant will require some
protection for its first few years.
A fairly deep-rooting
plant, the roots are up to 120cm long. It can be difficult
to eradicate once it is established.
This species has a
symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these
bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric
nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing
plant but some can also be used by other plants growing
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow
spring or autumn in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings
into individual pots when they are large enough to handle,
and grow them on for their first winter in a greenhouse.
Plant out in late spring or early summer when in active
growth. Plants are rather slow to grow from seed.
Division of the root in
spring or autumn. Each division must have at least one
growth bud. Autumn divisions can either be replanted
immediately or stored in clamps until the spring and then be
planted out. It is best to pt up the smaller divisions and
grow them on in a cold frame until they are established
before planting them out in the spring or summer.
Growth will be slow for
two years but once established licorice grows luxuriantly.
Harvest roots in the third
or fourth autumn, wash, trim and dry for future use.
Soil should be dug to a
depth of two feet or more and manured well the autumn prior
A moist, fairly rich,
well-drained sandy loam is best.
Soil pH should be slightly
alkaline. Licorice is a plant for southern climates, dying
in a hard freeze. Warm regions and mild climates insure
vigorous growth. It is best to harvest plants that haven't
gone to seed as the sweet sap is exhausted by the flowering
Pinch flowers back as they
An acre has been reported
to produce 2 ½
to 5 tons of root. The
main root should be split as it is slow to dry.
The first mention of licorice was
recorded on ancient Assryian tablets and Egyptian papyri.
The Greeks learned about the sweet root from the Scythians,
so Theophrastus named it Scythian in the 3rd C
bc, declaring it god for lung disease.
Later it descriptively
became glycyrrhiza (glykys, meaning “sweet,” and rhiza,
The specific name glabra,
'smooth', is a reference to the smooth seed pods.
Widely cultivated in 15th-century
it was sold in apothecaries and it remains a common
pharmaceutical sweetener and pill binder today.
The Latin liquiritia
turned into lycorys in Old French.
The Dominican Black Friars
introduced it into England, where lycorys extract was
later sold as lozenges called “pomfrey cakes.”
Licorice has been
used medicinally for many centuries; the ancient Egyptians,
Greeks and Romans, all recognized how beneficial it was for
coughs, colds and chills.
Licorice was often called
scythic by the ancients because the Scythians, redoubtable
warriors, were reputed to be able to go for
ten days without other
food or water by eating licorice.
Licorice has been used
medicinally since at least 500 B.C. and still features in
official pharmacopoeia as a "drug" for stomach ulcers.
G. glabra originates in
the Mediterranean and the
Middle East and has been cultivated in Europe since at least the 16th century.
In China, G. uralensis or gan cao is
used; it is called the "great detoxifier" and is thought to
drive poisons from the system.
It is also an important
tonic, often called "the grandfather of herbs."
The roots became popular chewing sticks in
the West Indies, and other
places where the plant grows.
Liquorice has an ancient
reputation as an aphrodisiac; the Kama Sutra and Ananga
Ranga contain numerous recipes for increasing sexual vigor
which include licorice.
Triterpenes of the oleanane type, mainly glycyrrhizin and
its agylcone glycyrrhetinic acid, liquiritic acid,
glycyrrhetol, glabrolide, isoblabrolide, licoric acid, and
phytosterols; Flavonoids and isoflavonoids: liquiritigenin,
liquiritin, rhamnoliquiritin, neoliquiritin, licoflavonol,
licoisoflavones A and B, licoisoflavanone, formononetin,
glabrol, glabrone, glyzarin, kumatakenin and others;
Courmarines: liqcoumarin, umbelliferone, herniarin glycyrin;
Chalcones: liquiritigenin, isoliquiritigenin,
neosoliquiritin, rhamnoisoliquiritin, licuraside,
licochalcones A and B, echinatin and others;
Polysaccharides, mainly glucans; Volatile oil, containing
fenchone, linalool, furfuyl alcohol, benzaldehyde and others
and references; starch, sugars, amino acid.
It is for the glycoside
glycyrrhizin that the root is cultivated.
The amount of glycyrrhizin
varies greatly ranging from 7% to 10% depending on growing
anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, tonic stimulant for
adrenal cortex, lowers blood cholesterol, soothes gastric
mucous membranes, possibly anti-allergenic, cooling,
expectorant, demulcent, laxative, spasmolytic,
hepatoprotectant, hepatorestorative, antiviral
sweet, neutral, moist, cool
Since Hippocrates' day licorice
has been prescribed for dropsy because it does, indeed,
prevent thirst--probably the only sweet thing that does.
The chief medicinal action
of licorice is as a demulcent and emollient.
Its soothing properties
make it excellent in throat and chest complaints and it is a
very common ingredient in throat pastilles and cough
It is also widely used in
other medicines to counteract bitter tastes and make them
Recent research has shown
that it has a pain-killing effect on stomach ulcers and
prolonged use raises the blood pressure.
Medicinally the dried
peeled root has been decocted to allay coughs, sore throat,
laryngitis, and urinary and intestinal irritations. The root
is expectorant, diuretic, demulcent, antitussive,
anti-inflammatory, and mildly laxative.
It has proven helpful in
inflammatory upper respiratory disease, Addison's disease,
and gastric and duodenal ulcers. Side effects may develop in
Licorice may increase
venous and systolic arterial pressure causing some people to
experience edema, and hypertension.
In some countries,
licorice has been used to treat cancers. Licorice stick, the
sweet earthy flavored stolons, are chewed.
Licorice chew sticks
blackened Napoleon's teeth. In the 1940s Dutch physicians
tested licorice's reputation as an aid for indigestion.
They came up with a
derivative drug, carbenoxolone, that promised to help peptic
ulcer patients by either increasing the life span of
epithelial cells in the stomach or inhibiting digestive
activity in general. Many cures were achieved in the
experiments, but negative side effects--the patients' faces
and limbs swelled uncomfortably--outweighed the cures.
Certain agents in licorice have recently been credited with
antibacterial and mild antiviral effects; licorice may be
useful in treating dermatitis, colds, and infections.
It also has been used in a
medicinal dandruff shampoo.
Other modern-day research
found that the herb can reduce arthritic activity.
An extract of licorice is made by crushing the fresh or
stored roots, then boiling or passing steam through them and
evaporating the liquid, leaving a thick paste or solid black
glossy substance with a sharp fracture. The active
ingredient Glycyrrhizin may cause hypertension from
potassium loss, sodium retention, and in increase of
extracellular fluid and plasma volume.
It is fifty times sweeter
Licorice also reportedly
contains steroid hormones, but their relation to licorice's
biological activity is yet to be determined, though extracts
have been shown to be estrogenic in laboratory animals.
Perhaps the most common medicinal use is in cough syrups and
cough drops; licorice soothes the chest and helps bring up
phlegm. Licorice has also been used to treat ulcers, to
relieve rheumatism and arthritis, and to induce
In this country it was
used in powder form as a laxative.
Licorice root is being
used today in
in eye drops that relieve inflammation.
Sodium salts of
glycyrrhinic acid are extracted from the root and added to
the eye drop formula.
The cortisone like action
of the licorice root extract is responsible for its healing
Use as an anti-inflammatory for arthritic or allergic
conditions, as a digestive stimulant, or allergic
conditions, as a digestive stimulant, or for lung disorders.
Prescribed for gastric
inflammation or to encourage adrenal function after steroid
Helps disguise the flavor
or other medicines.
Prescribed to reduce stomach acidity in ulceration
Take a syrup made from the decoction as a soothing
expectorant for asthma and bronchitis.
Let juice sticks dissolve slowly in an equal volume of water
to produce a strong extract that can be used as the
decoction, tincture or syrup
Glycyrrhizin has been found effective in the treatment of
AIDS, and in the prevention of progression of HIV+ patients
to AIDS in several Japanese clinical trials.
Glycyrrhizin is also used
routinely in Japan to treat
liver dysfunction, a benefit for many AIDS patients.
Glycyrrhizin showed antiviral
properties in initial laboratory tests.
It inhibited replication
of HIV virus, interfered with virus binding to cell walls,
inhibited cell-to-cell infection, suppressed clumping of
infected cells and induced interferon activity.
Interferon raises cell
resistance to infection.
Although the number of
patients in these clinical trials is small, results are
consistent in all of them.
Although administration of glycyrrhizin itself gives a more
consistent dose, taking the whole root may have advantages.
Reports of the glycyrrhizin content of the whole root vary.
The Merck Index lists it as 6% to 14%, and the official
German monograph lists it as 4% to 5.3%. The German
monograph says that a dose of 5g-15g a day delivers 200mg to
800mg of glycyrrhizin to the digestive tract.
This will deliver a
consistent dose at or above the dose range used by Ikegami
with HIV+ patients. Having the antiviral and
liver-protecting effects of its constituent glycyrrhizin,
the whole root is also an expectorant for coughs and
bronchitis, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Its isoflavone and saponin
constituents also have antiviral and anti-bacterial
properties and could help with secondary infections in AIDS.
(Medical Herbalism Vol 2
To make a decoction that can be taken for coughs, colds,
sore throats and stomach ulcers, put 1 1/2-2 oz liquorice
root in 1 1/2 pt of water, boil for 10 to 15 minutes, strain
and drink as required.
powder: 0.6-2 g; tincture: 2-5 ml
contains phytoestrogens and steroidal estrogenic saponins
capable of balancing female hormones.
It is suggested that it is
best limited to the first half of the menstrual cycle or in
menopause 2-3 weeks out of the month to avoid bloating and
General menopause formulas:---2
parts Licorice, 2 parts burdock; 2 parts angelica; 1 part
wild yam root; 1 part motherwort.
Take two capsules three
times a day, or 30 drops of a tinctur4e of the same formula.
---2 parts Chaste tree berry; 1
part motherwort; 1 part false unicorn root; 1 part angelica;
1 part St. John's wort; 1-2 parts sage; 1-2 parts black
cohosh; ½-1 part licorice; ½ -1 part cramp bark; ½ -1 part
Take 304 ml three times a
day sway from meals and before bed.
Can add dandelion or
Oregon grape. (Silena Heron)
As noted above, the
cortisonelike component of glycrrhizin increases the
retention of salt and water in the body. This causes
dangerous side effects, including abnormal heart action and
kidney failure, triggered by potassium depletion.
Licorice should be avoided
by cardiac patients and those who suffer from hypertension,
kidney complaints or obesity.
Pregnant women, who are
especially subject to edema, should also avoid it.
In addition, some people
are allergic to licorice, even in modest quantities.
Cases of toxicity have
been reported from less than a gram of glycyrrhizin in
Licorice has caused
paralysis of the limbs, electrolyte imbalance, high blood
pressure, and shortness of breath.
The toxic manifestations
of excess licorice ingestion are well documented.
One case documented the
ingestion of 30 g to 40 g of licorice per day for 9 months
as a diet food.
The subject became
increasingly lethargic, having flaccid weakness and dulled
She also suffered from
hypokalemia and myoglobinuria.
Treatment with potassium
supplements reversed her symptoms
Other documented complications include hypokalemic
paraparesis, hypertensive encephalopathy and one case of
Products which contain
licorice as a flavoring, such a chewing tobacco, have also
been implicated in cases of toxicity.
to glycyrrhiza-containing products have also been noted in
Although licorice candy is
safe, large doses can cause sodium retention and potassium
loss, leading to water retention, high blood pressure,
headaches and shortness of breath.
In a controlled study, 3 ½
oz of licorice twists daily for 1-4 weeks resulted in
serious symptoms, which disappeared when discontinued.
Licorice root is emollient and soothing. Modern-day
herbalist Jeanne Rose recommends making a steam facial with
licorice, comfrey, and either chamomile or lavender. The
licorice helps to open the pores and allows the other
cleansing and healing herbs to penetrate the skin.
As a shampoo ingredient
licorice root suppresses the secretion of scalp sebum for a
week after shampooing, thereby postponing the oily sheen.
It is also used in
mouthwash and toothpaste as a sweetening and flavoring
agent. Sometimes it is mixed with anise and used in liqueurs
and herbal teas.
When used in making beer
and stout, it adds flavor, color and a foamy head. Licorice
has the power to intensify other flavors, and it is used
commercially in pastries, ice cream, puddings, soy sauce,
and soy-based meat substitutes.
Powers: Lust, Love,
Chewing on a licorice
stick will make you passionate. Licorice is added to love
and lust sachets, carried to attract love, and used in
spells to ensure fidelity.
Licorice sticks make
Licorice root is said to
grant the bearer control over a person or situation.
Licorice is an ingredient
in formulas for controlling others.
Dominating: Add Licorice
root chips to commercial incenses to make them stronger.
Burn Licorice on charcoal
while you perform domination candle spells.
Used as foaming agent in fire extinguishers. Licorice
products figure as wetting, spreading, and adhesive agents
in insecticides and as a medium for culturing food yeast.
The pulp is a
nitrogen-rich fertilizer and mulch, and it is a component of
composition board and insulation.
By far the greatest
quantity of the licorice, perhaps as much as 90%, ends up in
A sweetening agent, it is more
than 50 times sweeter than sugar and is added to chocolate
to extend the sweetness of sugar.
bittersweet flavor is a classic the world over.
Licorice is a popular
confection which can be safely eaten by diabetics;
Pontefract of Pomfrey cakes are made from liquorice grown
around the town of the same name in
Liquorice is used by
brewers to give body and color to porter and stout.
It is used in making the
Irish ale Guiness and to flavor the Italian liqueur sambuca.
Licorice increases the
foam in beer.
Licorice extracts are used
to flavor tobacco, chewing gums, confections, soft drinks,
liqueurs, ice cream, and baked goods.
Pieces of licorice root
can also be infused in hot water for a flavorful and
soothing tisane, and licorice powder can be used to enliven
fruit juices and dried fruit salads.
A stick cut from the root
is satisfying to gnaw on, especially for those on diets and
for those giving up smoking (it can be fiddled with like a
1 fifth vodka
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp licorice root
½ cup water
Put the licorice
root in the vodka bottle and recap it.
Let stand in a dark place
for a couple of days, then strain the vodka through a coffee
Heat the water and mix in
sugar until it dissolves.
Add this syrup to the
vodka and return to bottles.
Tightly cap and store for
at least two weeks before using.
Licorice and Banana oatmeal
½ ripe banana, mashed well
1-2 pinches of powdered licorice
1 bowl of well-cooked oatmeal
Blend the banana
and licorice into the bowl of oatmeal.
Add a little milk if
Helps relieve congestion
of the sinuses and lungs as well as supporting the immune
system and helping to relieve diarrhea.
(Growing 101 Herbs that
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal,
Tammi Hartung, Storey Books, 2000; ISBN: 1-58017-215-6
Cooking with Spices,
Carolyn Heal and Michael Allsop, David and Charles, 1983;
Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs,
Scott Cunningham, Llewellwyn Publications, 1982, ISBN: 978-0
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic,
Catherine Yronwode, Lucky Mojo Curio Company, 2002, ISBN:
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia,
The Indian Spice Kitchen,
Monisha Bharadwaj, Dutton,
1997; ISBN: 0-525-94343-9
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