Licorice Root

 

It seems like everyone I know had a sore throat last week.  So I made a big pot of my favorite healing brew, Ginger Licorice Tea.

As I often do, I went on twitter, this time to chat about my fave tea for colds and sore throats.  While everyone was familiar with ginger, several folks told me they hadn’t ever heard of licorice root.  So here we go, I’ll tell you all about licorice root and why it’s absolutely indispensable in my home this time of year.

In the world of herbs, licorice root is primarily known as a demulcent (that is a soothing substance taken internally to protect damaged or inflamed tissue) and an expectorant (a substance that assists in expelling mucus from lungs and throat).  Licorice root is commonly used in alternative medicine to treat colds and sore throats.  However, licorice does not only act upon the respiratory system.  It can also be soothing to the gut and work as an effective liver cleanser and blood detoxifier when combined with other herbs.

Healing Properties of Licorice Root
  • soothes a sore throat
  • loosens bronchial congestion
  • reduces inflammation
  • soothes digestive and gastro-intestinal issues
  • helpful with stomach ulcers

Licorice is also used for chronic conditions such as adrenal insufficiency.  However, used in large doses, over long term, licorice can exacerbate hypertension, so it is best to see a doctor or herbalist if you are going to use this substance for chronic conditions.

Although my background is in Ayurvedic herbology, I do have some knowledge of Chinese herbs, and licorice is used often in Chinese medicine, considered one of the most important herbs in that system.  Licorice is also commonly used in Ayurveda as well, as it is very soothing for the vata dosha (constitution).

Licorice basically helps people that are experiencing ailments of “dryness” in the body become more moist.  I tell my children that when you have a cold, taking licorice is like putting a humidifier in your body –that’s how it works.  For this reason, licorice is not the best herb of choice for those that tend to retain water in their body –those that we refer to in Ayruveda as having the kapha dosha.

With licorice and other roots, I was taught that it is best that they boil in water for 2-3 minutes minimum to release all of their healing properties.  While licorice tea is available (in tea bags) in many health food stores, to get the full benefit of the licorice root, I would recommend purchasing in bulk, and simply boiling the root in a pot of water for 2-3 minutes.

I kept a pot of Ginger Licorice Tea steeping on the stove every day last week as we had severe, harsh weather here in Colorado.  Every humidifier in my house was on.  Some days the temperature didn’t even make it above 5 degrees.   Drinking this simple herbal remedy was very moistening for myself and my family given this cold, dry tundra we’re living in this winter.

So, finally, just to be clear, when I’m talking about licorice root, I am not referring to licorice candy.  This is a totally different thing made of molasses, flour and other ingredients.  Let’s not confuse the pure healing licorice root with licorice candy.

Have you ever used licorice root?  If so, what ailments do you use it for?  Leave a comment and let us all know!

Comments

91 responses to “Licorice Root”

  1. Yes I’ve had licorice tea. I just like the taste and it relaxes me. I make my own from the herbs and spices in my cupboard. I also ordered what I need on line

  2. Hi Lana.
    I have Lupus and high blood pressure which are being medicated. Today I was diagnosed with diabetes and started on glycacide. I know my adrenals are not working properly. Would liquorice be beeficial in any way?

    • Jennifer, thanks for sharing your story here, I’m glad we’re on this healing path together. I do use licorice tea to support my adrenals :-)

  3. Thanks for article. I used it a few years ago for hot flashes. I was at my wits end and read that it helped, and did it ever! So I was conversing with a friend today who had some hot flashes and I told her about my experience. I used the drops- store bought tincture- in water and it worked relatively quickly for me.

    Nice to hear its good for adrenals as I could use that as well.

  4. I love licorice tea! I have always enjoyed licorice tea with a slice of fresh ginger, honey and some elderberry extract, when I am sick. I will check out Mountain Rose Herbs for licorice root in bulk and make it the way you suggest! Thanks!

    • A pungent spice like ginger (with a sweet post digestive effect actually), cayenne (pure pungent), or a mint (peppermint, catmint, etc.) balances licorice root nicely. In ayurveda licorice about 2 g. in warm milk is a great brain tonic and aphrodisiac for most people too!

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