Herb Reference Guide

Licorice

History

The botanical name refers to a hallmark property of this plant; glukos (Sweet in Greek) and riza (root). Glycyrrhizin, a cortisone like chemical found in high proportions in the root, is said to be 50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). Licorice has many uses and is considered a tonic plant in many traditional medicinal systems. It has been used to support a healthy digestion, lung and respiratory function and promote a healthy adrenal response to stress. It is a member of the Fabaceae family and the species mentioned above are widely distributed in Turkey, The Middle East, China, India, Southern Europe including Spain and Sicily, Asia, Outer Mongolia and Western Siberia. It has been used in commerce as a flavoring agent for confections, liqueurs, and tobacco for centuries.

Function

Licorice is covered by a positive German Commission E monograph and can be used for catarrh of the upper respiratory tract as well as gastric and duodenal ulcers in Germany as an OTC medicine. Although there have been numerous studies conducted on animals and humans involving both isolated chemicals from licorice and various preparations, more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism of the various actions of Licorice. That being said, it remains one of the most widely used and trusted herbal medicines among traditional botanical practitioners. It has also demonstrated important immune modulating effects in studies.

Uses of Licorice

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Licorice contains triterpenoid saponins, notably glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid as well as a fair amount of flavonoids and flavones like liquiritin, and numerous chalcones and isoflavones.

Parts Used

  • Root

Important precautions

Additional Resources