Licorice Root Herb

Many people enjoy the licorice flavor in a candy, but don’t realize that licorice root herb is also considered a very valuable herbal plant.

Licorice candy does contain licorice, but the flavor comes mainly from anise or a combination of licorice and anise.

In fact, there are fourteen species of the licorice plant from moderate climates in both the New and Old World. Only ten out of the fourteen have sweet roots.

People are surprised to learn that the licorice plant is a member of the pea family. In fact, it is a large plant very similar to the sweet pea.

The name ‘glycyrrhiza’ is taken from the root words ‘glukus’ which means sweet and ‘riza’ which means root. These two words were combined to hint at the fact that the dried roots can be enjoyed by chewing like a confection because of their sweet flavor.

Licorice root herb has been noted to be used since ancient times. The Scythians introduced licorice root herb to the Greeks and was also used by the Hindus and Chinese.

Culpepper, Pliny and Hippocrates along with many other herbalists have employed the herb. Hippocrates shared with others in hot climates how licorice could supply sweetness and yet quench one’s thirst, which is uncommon among sweet substances.

King Tut and other Egyptian royalty were discovered with great volumes of licorice root herb buried with them in their tombs. It was believed that the licorice could be used in the making of a sweet drink called maisus in the next world.

In ancient Greece and Rome, licorice was used as a tonic and also as a relief for colds, coughs and sore throats. The ancient Hindus believed that licorice served as an aphrodisiac when used in a drink created with milk and sugar. The Chinese strongly believed that consuming the root could give them great strength and endurance. The Chinese also used licorice in tea for medicinal purposes.

In fact, licorice root herb is the most commonly used herb in Chinese combinations and is believed to harmonize the action of all other herbs.

Currently, licorice root extract can be found as an ingredient in a considerable number of products including anti-smoking lozenges, laxatives and cough drops and syrups.

It is also used in other medicines to cover up bitter, nauseous or other undesirable flavors.

The most notable active standard in licorice root herb is a substance that is similar to a saponin glycoside called glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar. This is what enables the use of licorice to cover unwanted tastes.

The great volume of saponin-like contents in licorice has a surfactant (substance capable of reducing the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved) property that may allow for the absorption of poorly absorbed drugs. This is the reason why Chinese herbalists believe in licorice’s harmonizing effect in their herbology.

Other properties of licorice root extract can be accredited to its flavonoids and coumarin derivatives. These contents produce the antispasmodic, anti-ulcer and antimicrobial effects of the herb. This explains why some people take licorice for acid reflux. Some people also believe there is some benefit from licorice for cholesterol issues.

Licorice root herb has helped to advance the standard of living for diabetics and those who suffer from hypoglycemia. Licorice is one of the best tasting herbs with some of the most historical records of believed medicinal properties available today.

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