Liquorice is a tall, erect herb with compound leaves, lilac or light violet flowers and flat fruit. The plant grows up to about 1.5 meters in height. It is a popular flavoring agent. It is densely covered with small spinous outgrowths.
The dried roots and underground stems or rhizomes of the plant constitute the drug. The root of the plant is a laxative and expectorant. When externally used it has a soothing effect on the skin. Powdered liquorice is very popular in allopathic medicine. The herb contains glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhizic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid.
Botanical Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra
Indian Name: Mulethi
Below are some of the medicinal properties of liquorice:
- Liquorice is a valuable remedy for relieving pain, discomfort and other symptoms caused by acrid matter in the stomach. It should be taken in powder form.
- Lubricating the throat with a decoction of liquorice mixed with honey brings relief in dry cough.
- It is an effective home remedy for sore throat. A small piece of raw liquorice if chewed or sucked provides relief by soothing the inflammation.
- Liquorice is useful in treating pain due to stomach ulcers, as it soothes the irritation caused by acids. Pieces of the dried root soaked overnight in water and the infusion taken with rice gruel helps in the cure of ulcer. Even allopathic physicians use liquorice for treating ulcers.
- Liquorice alleviates muscular pains. Taking an infusion of the roots soaked overnight relieves any chronic joint problems.
- The powder of the herb mixed with butter or ghee and honey can be applied on cuts and wounds with good results. The leaves of the plant, applied as a poultice is a useful remedy in scalds of the head and body.
- It is used in the treatment of myopia. Half a teaspoon of the powder of the root, mixed with an equal amount of honey and half the quantity of ghee, can be given twice daily with milk on an empty stomach in this case.
- It heals corns which are just appearing. A paste of liquorice sticks mixed with sesame or mustard oil, if rubbed into the hardened skin at bed time softens the skin and the corn decreases in size.
- It is also used as a laxative in constipation. Its powder is taken with jaggery and water in this condition.
- The sticks of dried rhizomes are soaked in water and the infusion used as a gargle brings quick relief in oral inflammations. Tiny bits of the stick with sugar candy can also be sucked.
- Liquorice is beneficial in treating patchy baldness. Small pieces of the root are ground in milk with a pinch of saffron to a paste. When this paste is applied over the bald patches at bedtime regularly, hair growth is seen within a few weeks. This prescription is very effective in the initial stages of baldness, excessive hair loss and dandruff.
Continuous and uninterrupted use of liquorice in the treatment of stomach ulcer is not advisable as it may cause increase in weight and puffiness of body. It should also be avoided in pregnancy and in heart and kidney conditions.