Information about the herb Licorice

Glycyrrhiza glabra, also known as Sweet Wood is part of the Leguminosae plant family. Licorice is a perennial herb native to southern Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean, now extensively cultivated in Russia, Spain, Iran and India. 

General Information

Botanical Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra

Plant Family: Leguminosae

Common Names: Lacrisse (German), Licorice Root, Liquorice, Reglisse (French), Regolizia (Italian), Suessholz, Sweet Licorice, Sweet Wood

History: Its botanical name Glycyrrhiza comes from the Greek glukos, ‘sweet’ and riza, ‘a root’ and Licoricecomes from the Latin name, Liquiritia.

  • Homeopathic use of Licorice dates back to the first century
  • The uses of Licorice were learnt by the Greeks from the Scythians
  • Theophrastus mentions it in the 3rd century BC for dry coughs

Licorice Root was buried in tombs and caskets to help the soul pass easily into the afterlife. Great quantities were stored in King Tut of Egypt’s tomb to help him on his way to the afterlife

The Egyptians used it as a cure-all and the Greeks recognized the herb’s benefits in treating:

  • coughs
  • lung disease  

and the Chinese have used it as a curative agent for thousands of years 

Licorice is the second most prescribed herb in China followed by Ginseng.

Tradition: Licorice Root was

  • added to love sachets
  • chewed on to make you passionate
  • used as an ingredient in spells to ensure fidelity

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Plant Constituents of Licorice


  • amino acids
  • asparagin
  • bitters
  • essential oil
  • fat
  • female hormone estrogen
  • flavonoids
  • glycosides
  • glycyrheticic acid
  • glycyrrhizin (main constituent found in the root)
  • gums
  • mucilage (rhizome)
  • protein
  • resin
  • saponins
  • saponoids
  • starches (30%)
  • sterols
  • sugars (up to 14%) when mixed with water or used in cough drops,
  • tannin
  • volatile oil
  • yellow coloring matter


  • alterative [an agent capable of favorably altering or changing unhealthy conditions of the body and tending to restore normal bodily function, usually by improving nutrition]
  • antibacterial [an agent that destroys bacteria; bactericide]
  • anti-inflammatory [an agent to ease inflammation]
  • antispasmodic [an agent which relieves or eases muscular
  • anti-viral [an agent that destroys viruses]
  • demulcent [a substance that soothes inflamed mucous membranes and protects them from irritation]
  • diuretic [an agent that increases the volume and flow of urine which cleanses the urinary system]
  • emollient [an agent used externally to soften and soothe] (in combination with other cleansing and healing herbs) 
  • expectorant [an agent that promotes the discharge of mucous and secretions from the respiratory passages]
  • induces interferon activity
  • inhibits cell infection
  • mild estrogenic effects (root)
  • mild laxative [an agent promoting evacuation of the bowels; a mild purgative]
  • nutritive [gives nourishment]
  • pectoral [remedy for pulmonary or other lung and chest diseases]
  • rejuvenant [an agent that rejuvenates the body]
  • soothing
  • tonic [an agent that tones, strengthens and invigorates organs or the entire organism giving a feeling of well-being]

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Usage of Licorice

Medicinal Parts Used:  Root, rhizomes (powder, teas, tonics, extracts, tinctures and decoctions)

Licorice is one of the most popular and widely consumed herbs in the world. Licorice can be used for:

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • heart problems

Female Conditions

  • symptoms of menopause
  • regulates menstruation
  • relieves menstrual cramps

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • beneficial to the digestive system
  • catarrhal conditions of the intestinal tract
  • eases spasms in the intestines
  • flatulence (gas/wind)
  • gastric irritation other gastric disturbances
  • gastric and peptic ulcers (forms a coating of thick protective mucilage over the ulcer site)
  • good laxative for children
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • loosens the bowels in children
  • lowers stomach acid levels (coats the stomach wall with a protective gel)
  • mild laxative effect on the lower digestive tract
  • stomach and intestinal ulcers
  • stomach problems

Genitourinary System Conditions

  • Addison’s disease
  • bladder and kidney ailments
  • catarrhal conditions of the urinary tract
  • dropsy
  • treatment of the kidneys (Chinese Medicine)

Glandular System Conditions 

  • adrenal gland problems
  • normalizes and regulates hormone productionstimulates the production of hormones, such as the adrenal cortex hormones aldosterone and hydrocortisone which have anti-inflammatory properties
  • regulates low blood sugar
  • stimulates adrenal glands

Inflammatory Conditions

  • arthritis
  • relieves arthritic and allergy symptoms (acts like cortisone but without the side effects)
  • relieves rheumatism
  • soothes irritated mucous membranes

Liver Conditions

  • hepatitis (Japanese Medicine)
  • treatment of the liver (Chinese Medicine)
  • lowers blood cholesterol levels
  • stimulates the flow of bile

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • bronchitis and bronchial distress (increases the secretion of the bronchial glands)
  • chest infections and chest complaints in general
  • coughs (as effective as codeine, but safer, when used as a cough suppressant)
  • hoarseness
  • laryngitis
  • lung congestion
  • mucous congestion
  • sore throat
  • strengthens a singer’s throat
  • throat irritations 
  • tickling sensation in throat
  • wheezing


  • general tonic
  • neutralizes certain toxins
  • reduces fevers
  • removes thirst
  • treatment of the spleen (Chinese Medicine)
  • when recovering from an illness (supplies recuperative energy to the system)

Licorice is usually used in combination with other herbs and is a common component of many herbal teas .

Externally: Licorice has been used in a poultice for

  • dermatitis 
  • opening skin pores 
  • skin infections

Other Uses:

  • flavoring in candy, baked confectionary, ice cream (Glycyrrhizin is 50 times sweeter than sugar)
  • flavoring in liqueurs
  • to mask bitter tastes in medicines
  • to prevent pills from sticking together


Recommended dosage is as follows:

  • 10-30mL per week of 1:1 fluid extract

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Caution: Licorice can cause

  • edema
  • elevated blood pressure
  • headaches
  • hypertension
  • lethargy
  • shortness of breath
  • side effects in healthy people

Licorice should not be used by pregnant women as it can sometimes lead to high blood pressure with prolonged use.

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Global Herbal Supplies has Licorice available in the following forms: