Licorice (the herb, not the candy) is the grandfather of herbs and helps rid toxins from the body. Licorice contains estrogen-like compounds that regulate hormones and relieve menopausal symptoms. Licorice fights inflammation, allergies, and arthritis. Licorice reduces stomach acid and is good in the treatment of ulcers.
Use licorice as a remedy for bronchitis, fever, asthma, mouth sores, laryngitis, shingles, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, fibromyalgia, indigestion, heartburn, menstrual cramps, obesity, depression, and herpes simplex. Combine with astragalus, burdock root, dandelion, or wild yam for added strength.
Licorice stimulates bile flow and is often used as a gentle laxative. Mix with stewed figs for overnight relief from constipation. Licorice tea soothes the digestive system and is often used to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Licorice is 50 times sweeter than sugar and is often used as a flavoring (although the taste most people associate with licorice comes from anise or fennel). Licorice is also used to sweeten and condition tobacco products.
Licorice has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. The herb contains high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants that work to protect the body against effects of aging. Licorice is often recommended to improve adrenal function.
Licorice has a long history as a medicinal herb. It was used in Greece, Egypt, and China for many purposes. Regular use was thought to stimulate hair growth, improve vision, and increase sexual desire. Large quantities of licorice roots were found in the 3,000 year old tomb of King Tut. Licorice was considered to be such a valuable herb that no Egyptian king would be without it on his journey into eternity.
Licorice is widely used in India to treat abscesses and skin problems. Make a paste and apply to the skin as needed.
Tons of licorice roots are imported annually from Spain, Germany, Russia, and France. There is a wild variety that grows in the northwestern United States but it is smaller than European specimens.
Licorice is grown abundantly in Europe and Asia as a cash crop. The plant is a legume and related to beans and peas. The perennial grows best in full sun and fertile, moist, sandy soil and does not tolerate heavy clay. In the wild, it is never found growing more than 50 feet from water. Licorice can be grown in the home garden if conditions are right. Harvest licorice roots in the fall when they are at least three years old. The dried root can be chewed like candy and used to sweeten the breath.
* Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications. Licorice should not be used for over four weeks without medical supervision. People with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, kidney, heart, or liver conditions should avoid licorice. This herb should not be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women or by men with sexual dysfunctions. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin which can cause serious side effects such as headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks when mixed with certain drugs or taken in high doses. It may also cause water retention, which can lead to leg swelling and other problems.
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