Licorice is a perennial herb native to southern Europe,
Asia and the Mediterranean. The herb is extensively cultivated in Russia, Spain, Iran and
India. Licorice is one of the most popular and widely consumed herbs in the world.
Although many know this herb for its flavoring in candy, licorice is believed to contains
many health benefits. Ancient cultures on every continent have used licorice, with the
first recorded use by the Egyptians in the 3rd century BC. The Egyptians and the Greeks
recognized the licorice herb's benefits in treating coughs and lung disease. Licorice is
the second most prescribed herb in China followed by ginseng, it is suggested for dealing
with the spleen, liver and kidney. The Japanese use a licorice preparation to control
The most common medical use for licorice is for supporting upper respiratory track health.
The main constituent found in the root is glycyrrhizin. The
plant also contains various sugars (14%), starches (30%), flavonoids, saponoids, sterols,
amino acids, gums, and essential oil. Glycyrrhizin, stimulates the secretion of the
adrenal cortex hormone aldosterone.
Licorice is effective as a cough suppressant. Licorice rhizomes have a high mucilage
content which, when mixed with water or used in cough drops, soothe mucous membranes.
Licorice apparently also has an expectorant effect which increases the secretion of the
bronchial glands. Licorice is thought to be an effective to soothe throat, lung, and
Homeopathic use of licorice for gastric irritation dates back to the first century. Today,
herbal preparations are used to support the digestive system. Rarely used alone, licorice
is a common component of many herbal teas as mild laxative, a diuretic, and for
flatulence. Licorice has also been known to soothe joints and support normal blood sugar.
The licorice root extract produces mild estrogenic effects, and it has proven useful in
supporting stress of menopause and menstruation.
The constituent glycyrrhizin is 50 times sweeter than sugar, making it a widely used
ingredient in the food industry. The distinctive flavor of licorice makes it a popular
additive to baked confections, liqueurs, ice cream and candies. Licorice is also widely
used in medicines to mask bitter tastes and also to prevent pills from sticking together.
Licorice has also been used in poultices for control of dermatitis and skin infections. It
helps to open the pores and is used in combination with other cleansing and healing herbs
as an emollient.
Common Use: Licorice is an ingredient in many cough medicines and a popular and well known
remedy for bronchial distress. Licorice can have a beneficial effect on digestive