Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
All our herbs come from certified organic sources or trusted wildcrafters.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Russian licorice, Spanish licorice, Turkish licorice
PLANT FAMILY: Fabaceae
PART(S) USED: Dried root
OVERVIEW: Licorice, (sometimes spelled liquorice), is a favorite ingredient to sweeten herbal tea blends and is often used as a flavoring agent in candy.
Licorice root is one of the most widely-used herbs worldwide and is the single most used herb in traditional Chinese medicine today. It was used by the Egyptians as a flavoring for a drink called Mai-sus, and large quantities were found in the tomb of King Tut for his trip into the afterlife. Pliny the Elder recommended it to clear the voice and alleviate thirst and hunger. Dioscides, when traveling with Alexander the Great, recommended that his troops carry and use licorice to help with stamina for long marches, as well as for thirst in areas of drought.
In the Middle Ages, it was taken to alleviate the negative effects of spicy or overcooked food. In a recent survey of Western medical herbalists, licorice ranked as the 10th most important herb used in clinical practice.
TRADITIONAL USES: Used to sweeten herbal tea blends and is often used as a flavoring agent in candy. The root can be decocted as licorice tea and infused as licorice extract.
Native Americans had many different uses for the root. The Cheyenne would drink a medicinal tea of licorice for upset stomachs, while the Lakota’ used the medicine for the flu. The Dakotas would use the leaves to make a tea for earaches. The Blackfoot made a tea from bitter tasting roots to relieve sore throats.
STORAGE: Keep dry. Store in an airtight container in a dry cupboard away from light.
PRECAUTIONS & CONTRAINDICATIONS:
- Use at your own risk.
- Common side effects of licorice can include: absence of a menstrual period, congestive heart failure, decreased libido, pulmonary edema (excess fluid in lungs), fluid and sodium retention, headache, high blood pressure (hypertension), hypertensive encephalopathy, hypokalemic myopathy, lethargy, low potassium levels (hypokalemia), mineralocorticoid effects, muscle wasting, myoglobinuria, occasionally brain damage in otherwise healthy people, paralysis (quadriplegia), swelling (edema), tiredness, weakness. In people who eat a lot of salt or have heart disease, kidney disease, or high blood pressure, as little as 5 grams licorice per day can cause these problems.
- Licorice is contraindicated with the following medications: digoxin, drugs that lower potassium, blood pressure medications, diuretics, heart rhythm medications, blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), estrogen, hormone therapy, birth control pills, and corticosteroids
- Do not apply to broken or abraded skin
- Always consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, have an existing medical condition, have allergies, or are on any medications.
WARNING: This information is for educational purposes only, has not been evaluated by Health Canada, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
HEALTH CANADA REFERENCE: