Glycyrrhiza grows best in subtropical climates. It can reach a height of 4 to 5 feet. The plant contains long stems, flowers that range from white to flower, and oval shaped leafs. The root system is extensive and hearty. In fact, the main taproot is what is collected and used for medicinal purposes. The root is soft, fibrous, and yellow inside.
Because Glycyrrhiza glabra is considered to be both a demulcent, a soothing agent and an expectorant, an agent which reduces phlegm, it is often taken to alleviate discomfort associated with bronchitis, sore throat, and other cough related ailments. Known as the "sweet root," this herb contains a compound 50 times sweeter than sugar. For this reason, it is often used to mask bitter flavor in cough medicines.
Tablets can also be taken for stomach ulcers, indigestion, upset stomach, or acid reflux. To treat canker sores or lesions in the mouth, a variation of Glycyrrhiza glabra called DGL can be steeped in water and gargled a few times a day.
As a topical application or gel, Glycyrrhiza has been used historically to treat skin eruptions like psoriasis, eczema, and herpetic lesions.
Currently, scientific studies are also being done on the root to determine its effectiveness in promoting weight loss.
How To Take
The herb is available for consumption in various forms to suit your individual preference. It can be found in Chinese medicine stores as a dried peeled or unpeeled root, a powder, capsule, tablet, or liquid extract. The root can be boiled and consumed as a tea. The form of medicinal licorice called DGL, or deglycyrrhized glabra, is also safe to consume. In fact, it is believed to cause fewer side effects in some individuals.
Glycyrrhiza glabra may cause side effects such as headaches, high blood pressure, and heart problems in people who consume it for various conditions. Therefore, special attention must be paid to dosage. It's not recommended for adults to take more than 1 to 10 mg of the root, or 1 to 5 grams of licorice daily. Children with a sore throat can chew on a piece of root or drink licorice tea, but a doctor should be consulted first. The herb should not be given to infants or toddlers in any form.
Some tablet forms of this herb may contain harmful additives, so it's important to consult a doctor or pharmacist before intake of those forms.
In addition, people with allergies, heart problems, high blood pressure, low potassium, estrogen related conditions, diabetes, or liver or kidney diseases, should avoid this herb.