February 20, 2017

LICORICE (Glycrrhiza glabra)

Licorice has been a staple of culinary and medical herbalists since ancient times. It is a cornerstone of Chinese herbal medicine for two reasons. First, licorice helps coat and soothe irritated mucous membranes making it beneficial for sore throats and canker sores to gastritis and Crohn's disease. Licorice is used in throat lozenges for pharyngitis and has been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Chewing on the roots of 3 to 4 year old plants provides friction like a natural toothbrush keeping gums and teeth healthy.

Licorice loves the wet sandy fertile soil of riverbanks. Originally native to southern Europe and central and western Asia, it has been cultivated since Grecian times and is now found all over the world. Greeks, Romans and Native Americans used it for sore throat, bronchial infections, and stomach ulcers. Modern herbalists still use it for these ailments as well as for diabetes, chronic fatigue, Bell's palsy, and adrenal fatigue.

Modern research has discovered that licorice has anti-inflammatory properties. It stimulates the production of cortisone from adrenal glands while inhibiting the more damaging effects of this hormone. It protects the liver while gently stimulating detoxification via both liver and kidney through its hormonal effects, thereby, effectively and gently detoxing the system while supporting it. This property makes it invaluable to herbalists because it can work synergistically with many other herbs.

Scientific studies have noted it can reduce the need for higher steroid dosing in severe cases of adrenal dysfunction. The adrenal glands respond to systemic stress leaving licorice to help moderate the response lessening the more damaging effects of potent stressful events.

Too much licorice can cause elevations in blood pressure and water retention and should not be used during pregnancy or in persons with hypertension. Using deglycyrrhized licorice eliminates this problem.

A Kid's Herb Book (2000) by Lesley Tierra "Chewing on licorice roots helps curb thirst (sugar causes thirst) and reduces inflammation and is 50 times sweeter than cane sugar. Licorice tea helps de-stress and promote peaceful feelings. Steep one teaspoon chopped licorice or two whole slices in 1 cup water for 20 minutes. Strain, cool, and drink."

Yours in Herbs,

Dr. Rose