An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Licorice - Glycyrrhiza glabra - family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae) (Mimosaceae) (Pea Family) (Pulse Family) (Mimosa Family).

This perennial plant grows to about four feet high. It has compound leaves with lance-shaped dark green leaflets. Each summer it has pea-like flowers of blue, violet, yellow or white. Following the flowers are pods which contain the seeds. Its roots have been used as a base for candy and used as a source of folk medicine in Europe and Asia for thousands of years. Traditional Asian and European folk use of rootstock as a remedy for bronchitis, coughs, bladder ailments, inflammations, kidney ailments and liver problems. Traditional European use of rootstock as a folk aphrodisiac. Under the name Yashtimadhu, Licorice has been used as an Ayurvedic medicinal herb. Also used as an herbal tea. Note: Licorice has a high sodium content. Note: it should not be taken by persons with edema, diabetes, gall bladder problems, glaucoma, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems or liver problems. Note: do not use if pregnant or nursing. Note: do not use if you suffer from low blood potassium. Note: with long-term use, Licorice may cause medical problems such as asthma, edema, headaches, high blood pressure and indigestion. Note: do not take if pregnant or nursing. A chemical extraction of Licorice root to remove glycyrrhetinic acid (which raises blood pressure) yields deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL). Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) is currently being marketed as a dietary supplement in North America. This compound has shown some promise in the treatment of ulcers of the stomach and small intestine. Two Australian doctors discovered in the 1980s that these ulcers are caused in part by a bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. Modern American folk use of deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) as a remedy for Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. These days in North America, most "licorice flavored" candy is actually flavored with the Oil of Anise, which is extracted from seeds of Anise, Pimpinella anisum. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1970. Native to Europe and Asia. Naturalized in California. Cultivated as a medicinal herb and as an ornamental in North America.


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Web page last updated on 21 May 2003.