Scientific Name/Common Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra / Licorice
Part(s) Used: Root
Constituents/Active Ingredients: 4-24% triterpenoid saponins including, largely, glycyrrhizin and the potassium and calcium salts of glycyrrhizic acid; ca. 1% flavonoids including liquiritin and liquiritigenin, chalcones isoliquiritin, isoliquiritigenin, and isoflavonoids (formononetin); 1-2% amines asparagines, betaine, and choline; amino acids; 3-15% glucose and sucrose; 2-30% starch; polysaccharides; sterols; coumarins (glycerin); resin; and 0.047% volatile oils.
Overview: Licorice is a legume with roots rich in glycyrrhizin, a compound almost 50 times sweeter than sugar. Licorice root has been a valued medicine in both the Eastern and Western worlds for thousands of years and use was documented as early as 2500 B.C. in Assyrian clay tablets and Egyptian papyri. Traditionally, licorice root was particularly valued for treating respiratory problems, coughs, colds, flus, and infections. The German Commission E recognizes licorice root for treating respiratory catarrh (mucous) and gastric or duodenal ulcers. Glycyrrhizin accelerates the healing of gastric ulcers and also has expectorant and antispasmodic effects. According to Dr. James Duke, the expectorant, antisecretory, and antioxidant properties of licorice root make it a valuable herb for treating emphysema and chronic bronchitis, cases where uncleared mucous accumulates and irritates the lungs.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine as an expectorant to help relieve chest complaints, such as catarrhs, coughs, and bronchitis and to help relieve inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, such as gastritis in adults.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.