Scientific name: Glycyrrhiza glabra, Liquiritia officinalis, G uralensis, G. glabra, G. inflata

Common names: Licorice Root, Sweet Licorice, Sweet Wood

Ayurvedic names: Yashtimadhu, Madhuyesti

Chinese names: Gan cao, Kan tsau (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)

Bangladesh names: Yashthimadhu

Arabic names:

Rain Forest names:

Family: Leguminosae (Pea)

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 4 to 5 feet

Actions: Expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, adrenal agent, anti-spasmodic, mild laxative, emollient, pectoral, tonic, mucoprotective, adrenal tonic

Known Constituents:  Glycosides including glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhizinic acid (18-beta-glycyrrhetinic acid GA), the aglycone of glycyrrhizin (GL) is also in the root (.5-.9%), The amount of glyzyrrhizin in the root is often 2-6%7; flavanoids (1-1.5%) which have a yellow colour on the root: flavanones including liquirtin

saponins, flavonoids, bitter, coumarins, asparagine; Triterpenoid saponins

Constituents Explained:

The main bioactive constituents of licorice are triterpene saponins and various types of flavonoids.

Five phenolics isolated from licorice inhibited the cytopathic activity of a human immmunodeficiency virus. One of these a coumarin derivative named licopyranocoumarin, isolated from Xi-bei licorice, had structure 5, based on the chemical and spectroscopic evidence.

Four compounds, including two new flavonoids, were isolated from Si-pei licorice (licorice from the north-western region of China). The structures of the two new flavonoids, named glycyrrhisoflavanone and glycyrrhisoflavone, were (S)-7, 8′-dihydroxy-2′, 2′-dimethyl-5-methoxy-[3, 6′-bi-2H-1-benzopyran]-4(3H)-one (6) and 3-[3, 4-dihydroxy-5-(3-methyl-2-butenyl)phenyl]-5, 7-dihydroxy-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one (9). Glycyrrhisoflavone was found to be one of the tannic substances by the measurement of the binding activity to hemoglobin (relative astringency). Licochalcone B (1) was isolated from the fraction which showed the highest binding activity to hemoglobin among the fractions obtained by centrifugal partition chromatography of the extract of Sinkiang licorice (licorice from Sinkiang in China). Licochalcone B also showed the highest activity as a radical scavenger in the experiment using 1, 1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical, among ten tested compounds obtained from several licorices. The order of the radical scavenging effects was the same as the order of the inhibitory effects on the 5-lipoxygenase-dependent peroxidation in arachidonate metabolism [licochalcone B (1)>licochalcone A (3)>>isoliquiritigenin (14)>liquiritigenin (13)].

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It has a thick rhizome, with a dark red to brown outside, and yellow inside.  Long roots come out of the rhizome. The flowers are violet. The rootstock has a sweet taste, and is wrinkled, brown on the outside, yellow on the inside.  The stem is round on the bottom and becomes thinner as it gets more towards the top. It has odd-pinnate leaves (picture?). The dark green leaflets are ovate and blunt (picture.)  The flowers are pale blue and grow in axillary racemes. (Picture) The pod is glaburous? With 3-4 reddish-brown seeds

Traditional Use:

A herb used for a multitude of purposes.  Its sweet flavour masks the task of other herbs and makes taking them more palatable.  It has been used in tobacco,medicine and for food flavouring and sweetening.  

It has a long history, being used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and believed to be used by the ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Greek.7

Licorice, the root of Glycyrrhiza spp. (Fabaceae), has been used since ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times in the West and since the Former Han era (the 2nd-3rd century B.C.) in ancient China in the East. In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice is one of the most frequently used drugs

It is used for the stomach to reduce inflammation in the gut wall and in cases where the gut wall may be ulcerated.  With this in mind it is used for acid reflux too.

Commonly used for the respiratory system such as mucous, coughs, bronchitis, and has also been used for ulcers and urinary problems.  Theophrastus (IV-III B.C.), the Greek botanist, prescribed licorice to treat dry cough, asthma, pectoral diseases and to combat thirst: according to his account, it seems that Scythians survived in the desert for 11-12 days without water by eating licorice root <reword last sentece>

Used as a tonic, or sometimes gentle stimulate for the adrenal glands.

Used as an anti-inflammatory, it is used in instances where the joints may be painful and stiff.  It is sometimes used in a manner that steroids would be to reduce persistent inflammation. This may be because steroids replicate stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands, and licorices action on the adrenals may do something similar.

It has been used a mouthwash.  It has been regularly combined with other herbs to treat chronic infections.  It has been used for menopausal symptoms and complaints with the female reproductive system.

Alexander the great, the great commander of the greek armies (356-323BCE) was said to have given licorice root to his troops before battle for energy.

One of licorices active ingredients, which has been named ‘glycyrrhizic acid’ is fifty times sweeter than sugar.  Some people have not liked this part of the plant, and have attempted to tamper with it and remove it. When this has happened it has been called ‘de-glycyrrized licorice’?

Also fins a use in catarrhal build up in the body.

Some people think of licorice as primarily as a respiratory herb.  It is a common herb added to formulas for long periods

Sometimes used as a laxative for children.

Clinical Studies:

Consideration of any anti-ulcer or effect on h. Pylori

The extract of the medicinal plant is also used as the basis of anti-ulcer medicines for treatment of peptic ulcer. Among the chemical constituents of the plant, glabridin and glabrene (components of Glycyrrhiza glabra), licochalcone A (G. inflata), licoricidin and licoisoflavone B (G. uralensis) exhibited inhibitory activity against the growth of Helicobacter pylori in vitro

Effects of licorice on the Renin – Aldoterone system, hyperkaleima, sodium and flui retention

<can we summarise the gist of the article?>

Licorice on testosterone and PCOS

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Anti adrogenic effect of licorice

Plinius in the first century A.D. described the effectiveness of licorice in the treatment of sterility of women . These properties could be due to an antiandrogenic activity. Glycyrrhetinic and glycyrrhizic acid do not bind to androgen receptors ([Armanini et al., 1983]). In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that licorice reduces the production of testosterone in animals by blocking both 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 17-20 lyase ([Takeuchi, 1991]; [Sakamoto et al., 1988]) and in humans ([Takahashi et al., 1988]; [Armanini et al., 1999]). Administration of high amounts of pure licorice extract to male volunteers could significantly reduce total serum testosterone, however, the values of testosterone never dropped below the normal range ([Armanini et al., 1999]). <reword>

Licorice and dermatitis

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Postoperative sore throat (POST) contributes to postoperative morbidity. Licorice has been used as an expectorant in cough and cold preparations. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of licorice gargle for attenuating POST.

Forty adults (18-60 yr), ASA physical status I and II of either sex, undergoing elective lumber laminectomy were randomized into two groups of 20 each. Group C: received water; Group L: received 0.5 g licorice in water.

Both groups received a 30 mL mixture for 30 s, 5 min before anesthesia which was standardized. The incidence and severity of POST at rest and on swallowing and side effects were assessed at 0, 2, 4, and 24 h, postoperatively. 

Severity of POST was assessed by visual analog scale (between 0 and 100 mm; where 0 means no sore throat and 100 means worst imaginable sore throat). Postextubation cough was assessed immediately after tracheal extubation. Data were analyzed by Z test and Fisher’s exact test.

POST was reduced in the Group L compared with Group C at rest and on swallowing for all time points, except that the severity of POST at rest, at 24 h, was similar in both groups. Postextubation cough was reduced in Group L compared with Group C. There was no difference in side effects between groups.

Licorice gargle performed 5 min before anesthesia is effective in attenuating the incidence and severity of POST.


Agarwal A, Gupta D, Yadav G, Goyal P, Singh PK, Signh U. “An Evaluation Of The Efficacy Of Licorice Gargle For Attenuating Postoperative Sore Throat: A Prospective, Randomized, Single-Blind Study.” 2009 July