Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra; pronounced gly-cer-ri-za gla-bra) is a sweet tasting herb of a moist and warming nature, commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Its main actions act on the digestive and respiratory system and its healing properties include:
- Demulcent – rich in mucilage, licorice soothes and protects irritated and inflamed tissues; its slimy nature forms a temporary protective lining on the digestive tract to provide relief against gastric irritation and inflammation. Regular use fends off bad gut microbes like H. pylori and heals wounds while encouraging the production of a healthier, thicker gut mucosal.
- Anti-inflammatory – glycyrrhizin encouranges the production of hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory agent; licorice relives inflammation in various parts of the body, such as respiratory and joint inflammation.
- Adaptogen – licorice contains steroid-like compounds that tonifies the adrenals, combats adrenal exhaustion, stress and restlessness. It also contains phytoestrogens.
- Expectorant – clears phlegm and mucus from respiratory system; supports healthy lungs and clear breathing.
- Ayurveda – unctuous quality is believed to moisten and calm vata, the dosha associated with air, ether and dryness.
- Alternative sweetener – glycyrrhizin is a triterpene compound that is 50-100 times sweeter than sugar. By comparison, monk fruit is only 150-200 times sweeter than sugar.
Licorice is best used in formulas and for occasional use, not in high doses as a solo herb, because licorice has some hormonal (estrogenic) activity and glycyrrhizin in licorice can irritate the kidneys and cause the loss of potassium over time. Those with high blood pressure, heart, thyroid, and kidney disease, diabetes, and pregnant women should use licorice with caution. The deglycyrrhizinated extracts (which have had the glycyrrhizin removed) are safe to use, and have no side effects.« Back to Glossary Index