Licorice

Glycyrrhiza glabra, Leguminosae. The dried root is the part used.

Functions of Licorice

Licorice is a remarkable herb with an affinity for the endocrine system.

  • It has a similar structure to the hormones of the adrenal gland giving it effects similar to cortisone (but without the side effects). It is used as an:
    • anti-inflammatory, which means that it is good for aches and pains, including arthritis.
    • anti-allergic for the relief of hay fever, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and bronchial asthma.
    • expectorant for the relief of irritating coughs, asthma and chest infections.
  • It also has mild estrogen properties which makes it useful during menopause.
  • It is useful for healing stomach ulcers and is as effective as cimetidine (Tagamet). It lowers stomach acid levels and relieves heartburn and indigestion.
  • It acts as a mild laxative and can be used for irritation, inflammation and spasm of the digestive tract.
  • It has a beneficial action on the liver where it increases bile flow and lowers cholesterol levels.
  • It has an aspirin like effect in relieving fevers and pains, such as headaches.
  • It has the ability to improve resistance to stress. It should be considered during times of both physical and emotional stress, after surgery during convalescence and when feeling tired and run down.

Notes on licorice

  • If you take licorice in large doses for a year or so you can develop a hormonal problem called pseudoaldosteronism. This is rare but it could account for the number of reported side affects that are associated with licorice use. These side effects include high blood pressure. It is therefore recommended that you follow the dosages below and do not take it for longer than 6 weeks. This should mean that the side effects are unlikely to occur.
  • Its use in hypertension (high blood pressure) or with digitalis should be discouraged.
  • Do not take licorice during pregnancy.

Dosage

Decoction: put 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful of the root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. This should be taken three times per day.

Tincture: take 1-3 ml of the tincture three times per day.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

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