A favorite of herbologists in ancient times, licorice was an important part of Egyptian culture. Although now more familiar throughout the world as a candy, it still has several uses in modern medicine, especially for colds and respiratory problems.
This herb’s importance to the ancient Egyptians is clear, as it was actually found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. In ancient time the soldiers carried licorice to quench their thirst on the battlefield and get them through a long day’s marching. Some say that licorice was partially responsible for the Egyptian empire!
Licorice is a herbaceous perennial shrub native to North America and Europe. It is primarily cultivated for its root, which contains a delicious sweet flavor and accounts for licorice’s medical properties.
Licorice’s energy-giving properties are still recognized today in Chinese herbology, but the first recorded use was in ancient Egypt.
Licorice is also great for cold and respiratory problems. It works as an expectorant by promoting mucous drainage and providing a soothing lubrication of the respiratory tract. Licorice is a valuable ingredient in all cough medicines due to its remarkable soothing abilities.
The Chinese add licorice in many herb combinations to enhance physical and mental vigor. It is said to stimulate the adrenal gland, therefore producing adrenaline to increase energy levels, ease stress and promote a feeling of well being. For this purpose also, it is used to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, although it is advisable to consult your doctor if you use this herb for this purpose.
Licorice also contains a natural source of estrogen that can regulate the menstrual cycle. It is also effective in alleviating the painful symptoms of menopause and menstrual cramps.
Applied externally, Licorice has been found to help skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. It usually comes in a gel that is rubbed on to the problem area.
Because licorice root has a very sweet taste, its extract is used as a key ingredient in many types of candy. This extract is also used to disguise the undesirable taste of many cough medicines.
Licorice root comes in a powder, normally inside pills or capsules. Dosage varies per person but should normally be around 0.3g daily for long term consumption. Larger doses may be used for short-term problems. Be sure to always consult your doctor before starting a course of herbal treatment.