Medicinal Herb Licorice used in Wildcrafted Herbal Products' Therapeutic Creams and Compounds

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Botanical: Licorice

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The Liquorice plants are shrubs, natives of South-east Europe and South-west Asia, as far as Persia, the G. glabra ranging more especially to the westward, the G. glandulifera more to the eastward and being the source of the Eastern Liquorice root of commerce.

The Liquorice is derived from the sweet root of various species of Glycyrrhiza, a genus which contains about fourteen species, natives of warmer temperate countries. It is believed to give contentment and harmony.

The plants are graceful, with light, spreading, pinnate foliage, presenting an almost feathery appearance from a distance. The leaflets (like those of the False Acacia) hang down during the night on each side of the midrib, though they do not meet beneath it. From the axils of the leaves spring racemes or spikes of papilionaceous small pale-blue, violet, yellowish-white or purplish flowers, followed by small pods somewhat resembling a partly-grown peapod in form. In the type species glabra, the pods are smooth, hence the specific name; in others they are hairy or spiny.




Biological Name:
Glycyzrrhiza glabra

Leguminosae, Papilionaceae

Other Names:
Licorice, Yashtimadhu, Mithi-lakdi, Mulathi, Liquorice, sweetwood, licorice root
Atimadhuram, Erattimadhuram, Liquorice

Parts Used:
Dried root

Active Compounds:
Triterpenes of the oleanane type, mainly glycyrrhizin (=glycyrrhizic or glycyrrhizinic acid), and its agylcone glycyrrhetinic acid (=glycyrrhitic acid), liquiritic acid, glycyrrhetol, glabrolide, isoglabrolide, licoric acid, & phytosterols.
Flavonoids and isoflavonoids; liquiritigenin, liquiritin, rhamnoliquiritin, neoliquiritin, licoflavonol, licoisoflavones A and B, licoisoflavanone, formononetin, glabrol, glabrone, glyzarin, kumatakenin and others.

Coumarins; 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, furfuryl alcohol, benzaldehyde

Miscellaneous; starch, sugars, amino acid etc.

Licorice is a traditional herbal remedy with an ancient history and world wide usage. Modern research has shown it to have effects upon, amongst other organs, the endocrine system and liver. The triterpenes of Glycyrrhiza are metabolized in the body to molecules that have a similar structure to the adrenal cortex hormones. This is possibly the basis of the herbs anti-inflammatory action.

Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:
anti-inflammatory, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-spasmodic, demulcent, emetic, expectorant, laxative, rejuvenative, sedative, tonic.

It is a popular and well-known remedy for coughs, consumption and chest complaints generally, notably bronchitis, and is an ingredient in almost all popular cough medicines on account of its valuable soothing properties.

The Extract enters into the composition of cough lozenges and pastilles, with sedatives and expectorants. It is largely used in conjunction with infusion of linseed in the treatment of irritable cough, sore throat and laryngitis
Used for:
    abdominal pain
    debility (general)
    heart tonic
    mucus membrane toner and soother
    muscle spasms
    sore throat
    painful urination

As an anti-hepatotoxic licorice is effective in the treatment of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, for which it is been widely used in Japan. Much of the liver orientated research has focused upon the triterpene glycyrrhizin. This inhibits hepatocyte injury caused by carbon tetrachloride, benzene hexachloride and PCB. Antibody production is enhanced by glycyrrhizin, possibly through the production of interleukin.

Glycyrrhizin inhibits the growth of several DNA and RNA viruses, inactivating Herpes simplex virus particles irreversibly. It has a variety of uses in bronchial problems such as catarrh, bronchitis and coughs in general. Liquorice is used in allopathic medicine as a treatment for peptic ulceration, a similar use to its herbal use in gastritis and ulcers. It can be used in the relief of abdominal colic.

It nourishes the brain-increasing cranial and cerebrospinal fluid. Also improves complexion, hair, and vision.

In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice is nearly always used in herbal precriptions to harmonise the herbal formula and to stimulate the stomach.

Decoction, milk decoction, powder, ghee

Decoction: put 1/2 - 1 teaspoonful of the root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 1-3ml of the tincture three times a day.

Caution : There is a small possibility of effecting electrolyte balance with extended use of large doses of licorice. It has an ACTH like effect causing retention of sodium thus raising BP. The whole herb has constituents that counter this but it is best to avoid Licorice if the patient has hypertension, kidney disease or during pregnancy.

It may interfere with the calcium and potassium absorption. Do not use if you are suffering from osteoporosis, hypertension (increases water around heart). Take with boiled milk.

No other information about the safety of this herb is available. Use caution. Ayurvedic herbs are often taken in combination with others to neutralize the toxicity one herb with the opposing effect of other. Do not take except under the supervision of a qualified professional.

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