Liquorice has been used since ancient times to treat chronic digestive disorders such as duodenal ulcers, bloating, flatulence, and gastritis. Liquorice is also an age-old remedy for liver disorders – in the East it is still prescribed for hepatitis, nausea and vomiting. Modern medical research has confirmed many of the medicinal qualities of liquorice, especially its effectiveness as a demulcent (soothing agent) and spasmolytic. It is useful to treat dry and wet coughs, and contains anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic substances that can soothe the symptoms of asthma.
Liquorice roots are used in herbal medicinal preparations.
The active ingredients in Glycyrrhiza glabra are glycyrrhetic acids, which act as anti-inflammatories; saponins, which have expectorant and secretolytic properties; and compounds that have antiviral, antibacterial, cytotoxic, anti-oxidant and antihistaminic effects on the body.
Glycyrrhiza glabra is prescribed to:
- Treat sore throat, cough and bronchial catarrh. This antitussive expectorant loosens and helps to expel congestion in the upper respiratory tract.
- Helps treat infections in the upper respiratory tract.
- May help treat the symptoms of asthma.
- May help treat ulcers.
- Applied externally, liquorice gel can help relieve symptoms of itching, swelling and redness.
Flora Force Products containing Glycyrrhiza glabra
Domestic & culinary uses
Extracts of liquorice are used to flavour sweets and soft drinks, and in some countries the root is chewed as a mouth freshener. Unlike anise, which has a similar flavour, liquorice is not generally used in domestic cuisine.
Liquorice is a perennial plant that grows in southern Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean. In South Africa, liquorice will grow in full sun or light shade in deep fertile, well-drained, moisture-retaining soil for good root production. It tolerates alkaline as well as maritime conditions. You’ll find more information about growing liquorice at www.herbgarden.co.za/mountainherb/article_liquorice.htm
Acknowledgements & credits
Compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer
- Hikino H. et al. Recent research on oriental medicinal plants. In Economic and medicinal plant research. 1985. London, Academic Press. 1: 53–85.
- Saxena, S. Glycyrrhiza glabra: Medicine over the millennium. 2004. Punjab, India.
- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Liquorice. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/881.html
- Van Wyk, B-E. and Wink, M. Medicinal Plants of the World. 2004. Briza Books, Pretoria, South Africa.
- Burdock photo by Homer Edward Price (Common Burdock with beeUploaded by Amada44) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons