Licorice root is a sweet, nourishing herb that balances Vata and Kapha doshas, and has many applications for medicinal remedies. Known for soothing dry coughs and nourishing the adrenals, this sweet root has a restoring, relaxing, and softening effect. Let’s dive into some essential facts and discuss licorice in Ayurvedic medicine.
Licorice – Ayurvedic Medicine
Licorice is primarily known for its aromatic and sweet flavor in the West. Many herbalists use it as an antiviral and to nourish the adrenals. In addition, Ayurveda and other Eastern medicine traditions have long been aware of its numerous medicinal benefits.
Glycyrrhizin is the compound in licorice that gives it its particular sweetness. This substance is known to be many times sweeter than sugar, and can also be tremendously beneficial for your health.
Licorice has many heath benefits! Here are some of the ways to use this time-tested plant ally.
In Ayurvedic medicine, licorice is used for combating inflammation, improving gut health, boosting immunity, soothing ulcers and other GI irritations, protecting the liver, enhancing digestion, increasing tissue moisture, and regulating hormones. Furthermore, it is a go-to herb for dry cough, colds, sore throat, fatigue, and congestion.
However, a note on safety: those with high blood pressure should use licorice with caution. Its demulcent effects mean that it helps your body retain water. This is a good thing if you are a Vata-type that runs on the dry side. At the same time, it can also lead to an increase in blood pressure. Also, licorice can precipitate a drop in potassium levels which can lead to a spike in blood pressure. So, proceed with caution if this is a risk for you.
Some of the most well-studied and scientifically understood benefits of licorice root are:
- Soothing the stomach. Licorice has long been used to help prevent nausea and soothe stomach pain. It has also been shown to prevent the growth of the Helicobacter Pylori bacteria which causes ulcers.
- Enhancing respiratory health. Licorice can help promote the production of healthy mucus, keeping the circulation of mucus constant and ensuring that any unwanted particulate matter is flushed out of the lungs.
- Reducing stress. Licorice has been shown to reduce stress on the adrenal gland, which can inhibit symptoms like anxiety, nervousness, and nervous exhaustion.
Essential Facts about Licorice
- Botanical: Glycyrrhiza glabra
- Sanskrit: Yastimadhu
- Hindi: Mulethi, Jethimadhu
- English: Licorice (The etymology of the word licorice stems from the Greek word glukurrhiza, which means “sweet root.” The French adapted this term to licoresse, from which we have derived licorice).
- Rasa (taste): Sweet
- Guna (qualities): Heavy, sticky
- Virya (action): Cooling
- Vipaka (post-digestive effects): Sweet
- Dosha (constitution): Pacifies Vata and Pitta
Licorice is native to parts of Europe and Asia.
The licorice plant is a perennial shrub that grows up to 6 feet in height and has lilac-colored flowers with bean-like pods containing three or four seeds. The roots are long, wrinkled, and brown in color.
Licorice contains a wide range of nutrients and flavonoids and phytonutrients. It is a good source of B vitamins and E vitamin. It also provides minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, choline, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, silicon and zinc.
Licorice – Usage and Dosage
Ayurvedic medicine and other traditions use licorice in a number of ways. Here are some of the chief ways in which you may glean its health benefits.
To brush your teeth, simply chew the end of a dried licorice root until it becomes moist and soft. Use this to scrub your teeth. This will enhance the health of your gums and make your breath smell fantastic.
In fact, you can receive many of licorice’s herbal benefits simply by chewing the root. This allows for a degree of sublingual absorption of the active compounds, delivering them more directly to your bloodstream.
You can also make a tea of licorice root, or purchase pre-made supplements that contain licorice, like Chyawanprash.
Sweeter Than Sugar
In general, licorice is a fantastic Ayurvedic medicine with a number of interesting uses. Because of its delicious, sweet flavor, licorice is one of the easiest and most enjoyable beneficial herbs. In addition to its health benefits, consider licorice for adding a sweet flavor to teas and less tasty herbal compounds. This root is sweeter than sugar, so just a pinch goes a long way!