Tips for using licorice in herbal medicine and home remedies

Licorice has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. It was used in ancient Greece, Egypt, and China for many purposes. Regular use was thought to stimulate hair growth, improve vision, and increase sexual desire. Large quantities of licorice roots were found in the 3,000 year old tomb of King Tut. Licorice was considered to be such a valuable herb that no Egyptian king would be without it on his journey into eternity. Nowadays licorice is known to strengthen the immune system.

King Tut was buried with licorice.
King Tut -- photo courtesy of

Large amounts of licorice were found in King Tut's tomb. The herb has a long history in herbal medicine.

Licorice helps heal everything from arthritis to ulcers.

Licorice -- the herb, not the candy -- is the grandfather of herbs. It helps get rid of toxins from the body. Licorice contains estrogen-like compounds that regulate hormones and relieve menopausal symptoms. Licorice fights inflammation, allergies, and arthritis. Licorice reduces stomach acid and is good in the treatment of ulcers.

Mix with other medicinal herbs for added strength.

Use licorice to build up the immune system and as a remedy for bronchitis, fever, asthma, mouth sores, laryngitis, shingles, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, skin problems like eczema, fibromyalgia, indigestion, heartburn, menstrual cramps, obesity, depression, and herpes simplex. Combine with other immunity building herbs like astragalus, burdock root, dandelion, echinacea, and wild yam for added strength.

Licorice makes a good medicinal tonic.

Licorice is a powerful expectorant and helps remove mucus from the lungs. Use in cough syrups, tinctures, and teas for best results. Combine with ginseng for a potent lung tonic.

Licorice helps improve digestion.

Licorice stimulates bile flow and is often used as a gentle laxative. Mix with stewed figs for overnight relief from constipation. Licorice tea soothes the digestive system and is often used to treat irritable bowel syndrome.

Licorice is used as a sweetener.

Licorice is 50 times sweeter than sugar and is often used as a flavoring (although the taste most people associate with licorice comes from anise or fennel). Licorice is also used to sweeten and condition tobacco products.

Licorice works to protect the body.

Licorice has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. The herb contains high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants that work to protect the body against effects of aging. Licorice is often recommended to improve adrenal function and to build up the immunity.

Licorice makes a powerful poultice for boils and skin problems.

Licorice is widely used in India to treat abscesses and skin problems. Make a paste and apply to the skin as needed.

Licorice is related to beans and peas.

Tons of licorice roots are imported annually from Spain, Germany, Russia, and France. There is a wild variety that grows in the northwestern United States but it is smaller than European specimens.

Licorice is grown abundantly in Europe and Asia as a cash crop. The plant is a legume and related to beans and peas. The perennial grows best in full sun and fertile, moist, sandy soil and does not tolerate heavy clay. In the wild, it is never found growing more than 50 feet from water. Licorice can be grown in the home garden if conditions are right. Harvest licorice roots in the fall when they are at least three years old. The dried root can be chewed like candy and used to sweeten the breath.

* Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications. Licorice should not be used for over four weeks without medical supervision. People with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, kidney, heart, or liver conditions should avoid licorice. This herb should not be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women or by men with sexual dysfunctions. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin which can cause serious side effects such as headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks when mixed with certain drugs or taken in high doses. It may also cause water retention, which can lead to leg swelling and other problems.

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

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