LICORICE, Glycyrrhiza glabra

LICORICE

Latin name: Glycyrrhiza glabra

English name: Licorice, liquorice

Sanskrit name: Yashti-madhu, Yashti-madhuka

Indian name: Mulhathi, Jethi-madh

Medicinal parts used: Root

Glycyrrhiza glabra is a hardy herb or undershrub; the leaves are multifoliolate, imparipinnate; the flowers are in axillary spikes, papilionaceous, lavender to violet in colour; the pods are compressed and contain reniform seeds. The rootstock, which is stout, throws off a large number of perennial roots. The dried, peeled or unpeeled underground stems and roots constitute the drug known in the trade as Licorice.

It grows in the sub-tropical and warm temperate regions of the world, chiefly in Mediterranean countries and China.

Therapeutic use:

  • Licorice is used for the treatment of asthma, acute and chronic bronchitis and chronic cough.
  • It is a mild anti-inflammatory for arthritis and rheumatism and is used to treat gastric, duodenal and oesophageal ulceration or inflammation, heartburn and mouth ulcers.
  • Liquorice is also a mild laxative and may be used as a topical antiviral agent for shingles, ophthalmic, oral or genital herpes.
  • The compound glycyrrhizic acid, found in liquorice, is now routinely used throughout Japan for the treatment and control of chronic viral hepatitis, and its transaminase-lowering effect is clinically well recognized.

Precaution: Excessive amounts of the root, herbal teas or candy derived from G. glabra may be harmful. Licorice increases salt retention and depletes the potassium in the body, causing lack of energy, weakness and even death. People with hypertension or heart problems should avoid licorice.

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