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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.

Healing properties:
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 illness.

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 state.

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 women’s problems such as menstrual cramps and menopause.

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.

Cautions:
Taken excessively, liquorice can lower potassium levels to a dangerous level.
Liquorice should be avoided be those with high blood pressure.

Other uses:
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.

Growing liquorice:
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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All Information is provided for educational purposes only and not intended
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