Licorice – The Great Harmonizer

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 29, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH

As a child, were you ever given a slice of raw Licorice root to chew on, instead of candy? This is because Licorice root contains a compound that is about 50 times sweeter than sugar – a property which comes in very handy for helping to ‘disguise’ other less favorable flavors in a given remedy!

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a wonderful herb that has been used as both food and medicine for thousands of years. It is highly valued for its soothing action upon mucous membranes, and has traditionally been used for coughs and asthma. It can help rid your lungs of phlegm and mucous build-up.

Licorice is also widely used for peptic (stomach and duodenal) ulcers. It regulates (improves) the quality and quantity of protective mucous that is produced in the stomach. If the stomach lining is not sufficiently protected, it can be damaged by the acidic nature of the stomach contents. Licorice also inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with most ulcers.

Some rare individuals may be sensitive to Licorice’s potential blood-pressure-raising effect, which is due to glycyrrhizin. If this is a concern, deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) products are available, though ideally it is preferable to use an extract of the whole root (with glycyrrhizin). For example, in Japan, a glycyrrhizin compound is routinely used for chronic viral hepatitis.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Licorice (albeit a slightly different species than western Licorice) is considered “The Great Harmonizer.” It synergizes all of the herbs in a given formula and promotes their even distribution into the 12 major meridians.

Licorice – Nature’s “sweet treat”!

Read also: Stay Warm with Ginger this Winter

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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