Part Used: Dried unpeeled root & stolon
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a perennial herb, growing to 1.2m by 1m native to southern Europe, Asia and the Meditefrranean. It is extensively cultivated in Russia, Spain, Iran and India. It is one of the most popular and widely consumed herbs in the world. It has been used in ancient Greece, China, and Egypt, primarily for gastritis and ailments of the upper respiratory tract. Ancient Egyptians prepared a Licorice drink for ritual use to honor spirits of the pharaohs. Its use became widespread in Europe and Asia for numerous indications. Licorice is the second most prescribed herb in China followed by Ginseng, which is suggested for treatment of the spleen, liver and kidney problems. The Japanese use a Licorice preparation to treat hepatitis.
The most common medical use for Licorice is for treating upper respiratory ailments including coughs, hoarseness, sore throat, and bronchitis. Licorice has a marked effect upon the endocrine system. Its glycosides are structurally similar to the natural steroids of the body, and are responsible for the beneficial action that this herb has in the treatment of adrenal gland problems such as Addison's disease. The main constituent found in the root is Glycyrrhizin. The plant also contains various sugars, starches, flavonoids, saponoids, sterols, amino acids, gums, and essential oil. Glycyrrhizin, stimulates the secretion of the adrenal cortex hormone aldosterone. It is fifty times stronger than sucrose, which encourages the production of hormones such as hydrocortisone. Glycyrrhiza is widely used in bronchial problems such as catarrh, bronchitis and coughs. It reduces irritation of the throat and yet has an expectorant action. It produces its demulcent and expectorant effects by stimulation of tracheal mucous secretion. Today, herbal preparations of Licorice are used to treat stomach and intestinal ulcers, lower acid levels and coat the stomach wall with a protective gel. The root of Licorice is alterative, antispasmodic, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, moderately pectoral and tonic. The root has also been shown to have a hormonal effect similar to the ovarian hormone. Licorice root is much used in cough medicines and also in the treatment of catarrhal infections of the urinary tract. It is taken internally in the treatment of Addison's disease, asthma, bronchitis, coughs, peptic ulcer, arthritis, allergic complaints and following steroidal therapy.
Herbal Information Center. http://www.kcweb.com/herb/licorice.htm
Plants for a Future. http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Glycyrrhiza+glabra&CAN=COMIND
Purple Sage Botanicals. http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/liquorice.htm