Liquorice is very reminiscent of childhood sweets, particularly in Europe and we know that our Dutch relatives have a particular love of the sticky, dark confection made from this plant root. Liquorice has been loved as a sweet treat throughout the ages and commands an important place in the traditional herbal medicines of China and India. Infusions of this root crop produces a golden, yellow opaque brew which has an intense, cloying sweetness. We also know that it was used by the ancient Egyptians as a medicine and as a popular drink. Large supplies were found in King Tut’s tomb to go with him to the afterlife.
The Latin name Glycyrrhiza derives from the Greek for ‘sweet root’. It contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin which is 50 times sweeter than sugar. So it is often used in blends to impart a sweet taste, but there is so much more to what liquorice can do for us!
DID YOU KNOW?
- Glycyrrhiza glabra is the most commonly used species of liquorice.
- In traditional Chinese (TCM) and Indian medicine (Ayurveda) liquorice is thought to harmonise the other herbs in a blend. This is why liquorice is so often added in small amounts to tea blends from these traditions.
- Taken long term or in large amounts liquorice can raise blood pressure in some people. For this reason, a doctor or herbal practitioner should be consulted before use, in cases of hypertension.
LIQUORICE & ME
- Liquorice is used in hair rinses to help reduce dandruff and hairloss. Simply add a couple of liquorice teabags to hot water and leave overnight. Use cold in the morning.
- Liquorice root can also be decocted (boiled in hot water), cooled and used as a mouthwash. Make fresh every 24 hours.
- If you suffer from heartburn after meals, keep some liquorice sweets with you. Simply chew one to soothe symptoms. Be sure to get real liquorice however as there are many sweets out there made from synthetic derivatives!
If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies