Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza Glabra)

Licorice Root Benefits

Licorice root contains many anti-depressant compounds and is an excellent alternative to St. John's Wort. As a herbal medicine it has an impressive list of well documented uses and is probably one of the most over-looked of all herbal wonders. Licorice is useful for many ailments including asthma, athlete's foot, baldness, body odor, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, prostate enlargement and arthritis.

Hundreds of potentially healing substances have been identified in licorice as well, including compounds called flavonoids and various plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). The herb's key therapeutic compound, glycyrrhizin (which is 50 times sweeter than sugar) exerts numerous beneficial effects on the body, making licorice a valuable herb for treating a host of ailments. It seems to prevent the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol (the body's primary stress-fighting adrenal hormone), making these hormones more available to the body.

It has a well-documented reputation for healing ulcers. It can lower stomach acid levels, relieve heartburn and indigestion and acts as a mild laxative.

It can also be used for irritation, inflammation and spasm in the digestive tract. Through its beneficial action on the liver, it increases bile flow and lowers cholesterol levels.

Licorice also appears to enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses. It also contains powerful antioxidants as well as certain phytoestrogens that can perform some of the functions of the body's natural estrogens; very helpful during the menopause. Glycyrrhizinic acid also seems to stop the growth of many bacteria and of viruses such as influenza A.

In the respiratory system it has a similarly soothing and healing action, reducing irritation and inflammation and has an expectorant effect, useful in irritating coughs, asthma and chest infections.

It has an aspirin-like action and is helpful in relieving fevers and soothing pain such as headaches. Its anti-allergenic effect is very useful for hay fever, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and bronchial asthma. Possibly by its action on the adrenal glands, licorice has the ability to improve resistance to stress. It should be thought of during times of both physical and emotional stress, after surgery or during convalescence, or when feeling tired and run down.

New research: Licorice hailed for its potential to fight tooth decay

Licorice with glycyrrhizin may help to:

Control respiratory problems and sore throat

Licorice eases congestion and coughing by helping to loosen and thin mucus in airways; this makes a cough more "productive," bringing up phlegm and other mucus bits. Licorice also helps to relax bronchial spasms. The herb also soothes soreness in the throat and fights viruses that cause respiratory illnesses and an overproduction of mucus.

Lessen symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

By enhancing cortisol activity, glycyrrhizin helps to increase energy, ease stress and reduce the symptoms of ailments sensitive to cortisol levels, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromylagia.

Combat hepatitis

Licorice both protects the liver and promotes healing in this vital organ. The herb's anti-inflammatory properties help calm hepatitis-associated liver inflammation. Licorice also fights the virus commonly responsible for hepatitis and supplies valuable antioxidant compounds that help maintain the overall health of the liver.

Treat PMS and menstrual problems

The phytoestrogens in licorice have a mild estrogenic effect, making the herb potentially useful in easing certain symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), such as irritability, bloating and breast tenderness. Although the glycyrrhizin in licorice actually inhibits the effect of the body's own estrogens, the mild estrogenic effect produced by licorice's phytoestrogens manages to override this inhibiting action.

Prevent heart disease

Recent studies have found that by limiting the damage from LDL ("bad") cholesterol, licorice may discourage artery-clogging plaque formation and contribute to the healthy functioning of the heart. Research indicates that modest doses of licorice (100 mg a day) have this effect.

Licorice Root Herb Notes / Side Effects

Latin Names

Glycyrrhiza glabra, Liquiritia officinalis

Common Names

Chinese Licorice, Gan Cao, Kan-ts'ao, Kuo-lao, Licorice, Licorice Root, Ling-t'ung, Liquorice, Mei-ts'ao, Mi-kan, Mi-ts'ao, Sweet Licorice, Sweet Wood, Yasti Madhu


Anti-allergic, anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, emollient, estrogenic (mild), expectorant, laxative, pectoral (moderate), soothing

Indicated for

Addison's disease, allergic rhinitis, arthritis, athlete's foot, baldness, bronchitis, bursitis, canker sores, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, chronic fatigue, colds, colitis and intestinal infections, conjunctivitis, constipation, coughs, dandruff, depression, duodenal-ulcers, emphysema, exhaustion, fibromyalgia, flu, fungal infections, gastritis, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, hayfever, heartburn, hepatitis, inflamed gallbladder, liver disease, Lyme disease, menopause, prostate enlargement, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, spleen disorders, tendinitis, throat problems, tuberculosis, ulcers, viral infections, yeast infections. Reducing stomach acid and relieving heartburn and indigestion. Increasing bile flow and lowering cholesterol. Improving resistance to physical and emotional stress.

Do not confuse with licorice confectionery which contains very little, if any, licorice and is in fact flavoured by anise.

Can cause water retention and raised blood pressure. Prolonged use should be avoided if you suffer from high blood pressure.

Can cause mild adrenal stimulation.

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licorice tea 's avatar  licorice tea 17/03/2012 14:35

is licorice tea good for sleeping, relaxation? 

23 people liked this.
Mary_eliz_08 's avatar  Mary_eliz_08 24/09/2011 19:33

I'm excited to try this because I have a LOT of the problems it can fix. But I'm new to herbal remedies, and confused: do I need to chew the stick of the root, drink a tea, inhale by essential oil in bath..? I have breathing problems as well as awful anxiety and stomach upset. Thanks for your help in advance! :)

15 people liked this.
Marina 's avatar  Marina 12/12/2011 11:15

I recently read about clinical trials involving liquorice root in treating menopauasl symptoms. Having suffered from hot flushes on and off for about 3 years I decided to try it, in addition to the other natural remedied which I already take. These have helped, but not enough. I decided on a fairly mainstream preparation, Solgar extract of liquorice root, and took 1 tablet a day as the study claimed that this worked on tiny amounts of root extract taken. 3 weeks into it, my hot flushes have completely disappeared (!!!!) and most importantly for me, I am sleeping like a baby. I had been suffering from interrupted sleep and felt horrible for months The final symptom I have experienced is that I actually got a light period for the first time in over a year. It's absolutely incredible, it feels like I've started HRT ( a couple of friends are on it and describe the same results). Has anyone else experienced this?

8 people liked this.
Joel and Kathy 's avatar  Joel and Kathy 27/06/2013 02:55

I was recently told about "licorace root" from a Psychiatrist who came to one of our marraige weekends. It which appears to have alot of benifits, that really impresses me, but I read somewhere that licorace root will decrease your sexual drive. Is this true? That is something that we DONT want (lol) to happen in recovering marriages. Can anyone give me an answer on that?
Thank you.

7 people liked this.
Groen 's avatar  Groen 14/01/2014 19:22

Licorice is amazing. It tastes good and it is realty-show helpful to your health. Good for your stomach, good for your hormones, good for inflammation. It helped lifting the brain fog and chronic fatigue I was suffering from for months

3 people liked this.
bamboo85 's avatar  bamboo85 18/01/2013 03:54

I drink licorice tea several times a day. I also have lung cancer right now; started drinking licorice tea early last year - haven't had bronchial problems - to me, it tastes good. Try it..

3 people liked this.
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