The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile – Licorice Root

Glycyrrhiza glabra is the usual licorice root of commerce in Western Herbalism. Glycyrrhiza uralensis is used in TCM. Glycyrrhiza lepidota is native in North America. It is more common in the Colorado Rockies than in the arid SW. It is rarely used.

Licorice is a member of  the Fabaceae family. Glycyrrhiza translates as Sweet Root.

Common Names:


Energy & Tastes:
Sweet, cooling, moistening

Preferred Method of Preparation:

The alcohol extract is the most common. Decoction is also possible.

Herbal Actions:
A non-mucilaginous demulcent
Mild anti-viral
Harmonizing for many formulas when used in small amounts (10-20%)
Mild laxative

Therapeutic Uses:
Commonly used for cough, sore throats, GI hyperacidity – inflammation, low energy, adrenal support

Herbal Combos:
Many, as this is one of the most commonly used herbs in TCM due to its harmonizing affect on the formula, helping blend the energetics of the formula parts.

Use with mullein leaf, one part Licorice:five parts mullein for a dry, non-productive cough.
The moistening demulcent action of licorice helps to balance the astringent property of Rhodiola.

Safety Issues & Contraindications:

Long term excess use of licorice has the potential to raise blood pressure. The cases where this has happened are rare and most of those were due to excess consumption of licorice candy.
Proper use of licorice is 10-20% of a formula. Occasional use of this amount is considered extremely safe.
To be sure, don’t use licorice root extract with someone who is already on high blood pressure medication.

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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