Licorice

Latin:  Glycyrrhiza glabra

Family:  Fabaceae

Parts Used:  Root

Taste/Energetics:  Moistening, sweet

Properties:  Nutritive, tonic, adrenal supportive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, expectorant, immunomodulator, antimicrobial, demulcent, adaptogen

Actions:  Licorice is one of the most used herb in the Chinese medicine tradition and is often part of herbal formulas as a way to harmonize the other herbs and give greater effect to the medicine.  Licorice has multiple uses, is famous for its sweet taste and is often found in candies and beverages.

Licorice is useful as an anti-inflammatory pain reliever for arthritis and rheumatism.  It has nice gentle demulcent properties that make it useful for dry hacking coughs, ulcers and other inflamed conditions.  It has a gentle adaptogenic quality of building resilience to stress and reducing fatigue.

One of the main active sweet constituents, glychirrhizin, is chemically similar to aldosterone and other steroidal hormones.  For this reason there is some caution with its use as it can have similar effects to that chemical in raising high blood pressure, causing potassium excretion and cardiac issues in rare cases.

In term sof mental health, this is an herb that is very useful for those who have burned out their reserves, are feeling fried with heat signs.  They may  appear to be aging too quickly, feel dry and withered, pale, worn out.  Useful for those with fatigue, irritability, anger who feel highly stressed.  Licorice calms, moistens, smoothes and builds vitality.

Dosage:  This is a strongly sweet tasting herb that can “color” and overpower a lot of other herbs when taken in a formula.  Its best taken in small doses.  1-2 teaspoons to one pint of water decocted for 40 minutes.  As tincture 1-2 ml to 2 x/day.

Contraindications:   High blood pressure, heart or kidney failure.  Avoid taking with heart medicines, diuretics, blood thinners, steroids and estrogenic herbs. 

Further Reading:

Licorice monograph  by Rosalee de la Foret