Herb of the Month: Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Author: Angelique Bone   Date Posted:1 March 2019 

Many will know Licorice as the black sort of confectionary that you either love or hate. But licorice root is also a herb with a variety of medicinal benefits.

The Latin name of Licorice is Glycyrrhiza glabra, and Glycyrrhiza means “sweet root”, which is very descriptive of the incredibly sweet flavour of this herb. Licorice has been used since roughly 2500BC, both as a food and a medicine. ¹

Traditionally in Western herbal medicine, licorice has been used to help with coughs, making a popular and soothing addition to cough mixtures, ² in part probably due to its action as an expectorant (facilitates the removal of excess mucus). ¹ In western herbal medicine, this herbs is often used for its benefits in supporting the adrenal glands and reducing the effects of high cortisol levels. ¹ This makes it helpful in managing the body’s response to stress. Licorice also has anti-inflammatory benefits, it has been shown to help block the production of some inflammatory mediators. ²

 

 

Further, this herb helps to protect and heal mucous membranes, and can be helpful in managing irritation of the digestive tract, ¹ and as such it can be found in some gut health formulations for its soothing and healing properties.

Due its sweet flavour, licorice is a popular addition to many herbal teas, the aim being to make the flavour of the other herbs more palatable. Its strong and distinct flavour often comes through, and can even be overpowering when the blend is not quite balanced.

Important to note is that high doses of licorice may increase blood pressure, so it’s best to check with your healthcare professional first before using it, to make sure it is suitable for you.

References

1. Braun, L & Cohen, M 2015, “Herbs and Natural Supplements – 4th edition”, Chapter: Licorice, pp. 643 – 659, Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood NSW, Australia.

2. Bone, K & Mills, S, 2013, “Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy”, Chapter: Licorice, pp. 719 – 741, Churchill Livingstone (Elsevier), USA.

 

Written by Angelique Bone

Angelique (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath with a passion for herbal medicine and helping other people feel the best that they can. She believes that balance and moderation is important in maintaining good health.

Angelique enjoys reading, spending time with her family and baking goodies with her two young boys.


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