Herbs > Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Liquorice is a potent tasting
herb, which is used traditionally in making the
confectionery which bears the same name although
some liquorice sweets are now made today using artificial flavouring.
While it has its own healing properties, it
is often used to flavour other medicinal herbs. When
a bitter tasting herb is required, such as horehound,
liquorice will effectively disguise the bitter taste.
Research into liquorice has shown that it can inhibit
gastric secretion. As such, it is beneficial to those
suffering from gastric ulcers. Mixed with peony, it
will not only aid in the healing of these ulcers, but
also reduce the pain which they cause.
Liquorice is used to stimulate
the adrenal gland, which produces adrenaline. This
will help to ease stress and boost energy levels,
which can be beneficial to those recovering from
The glycosides which are
present in liquorice root will purge liquid from
lungs and throat. It is therefore excellent for colds
and chest infections. In addition, it contains
natural interfon, which will help boost the immune
system to prevent re-infection.
In Chinese medicine, liquorice
root is considered an alterive - a it normalizes the
body from a negative (diseased) state to a healthy
In addition, liquorice has a
mild laxative effect, it eases the inflammation of
the intestinal tract and cleanses the stomach. As
liquorice is a source of estrogen, it can be useful
for womens problems such as menstrual cramps
A beneficial liquorice tea is
available from health shops and some supermarkets. It
comes in the form of teabags and is brewed like
regular tea. Alternatively, fresh liquorice root can
be boiled in water to make a sweet drink with healing
properties. A small amount of liquorice root can be
added to any herbal tea to add sweetness and another
flavour dimension. It is particularly effective in
combination with chamomile, ginger or peppermint
teas. Mixing liquorice with any of these will make a
tea which will gently stimulate the liver and the
bowels, and ease the symptoms of bronchitis.
Taken excessively, liquorice can lower
potassium levels to a dangerous level.
Liquorice should be avoided be those with high blood
The mucilage created by boiling liquorice
root in water can be formed into shapes and left to
harden to form sweets and as mentioned earlier, liquorice
can be mixed with unpleasant tasting healing herbs to
make them more palatable.
Liquorice can be grown from seed, root
division or stolon cuttings (stolons are the
horizontal, runner-like stems which grow from the
base of the plant), which should be planted in Spring
or Autumn. Liquorice will grow faster from root
division or stolon cuttings than from seed. It
requires rich, sandy soil, which is preferably
slightly alkaline, and full sun. The flower heads
should be removed to promote stronger stolons and
roots (these are the active components of the plant).
Once established, liquorice is difficult to
eradicate. The roots and stolons can be harvested in
the third or fourth Autumn after planting.
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