Useful information

Naked licorice, licorice root

A bit of history


Licorice is the most commonly used plant in East Asian medicine. The Sumerians called it "the revitalizing plant." The fathers of medicine Dioscorides and Theophrastus used the root for coughs and catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, and Ibn Sina recommended licorice for many diseases. In Bamberg, Germany, it was even cultivated in the 15th century. In Chinese medicine, it is included in almost 70% of all formulations and is considered a conductor of the beneficial properties of other plants. In addition, Ural licorice is used there for fatigue, general loss of strength, a state of fear and palpitations, with shallow breathing, with cramps in the stomach and lower abdomen, and externally used for boils and inflammations on the skin.

Its Latin name Glycyrrhiza literally translated as "sweet root". Indeed, the glycyrrhizic acid contained in it, which can contain up to 24%, is almost 400 times sweeter than sugar.

Naked licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)Naked licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Naked licorice (Glycyrrhizaglabra L.) from the legume family. This is a perennial herb with a rather peculiarly organized powerful root system, which lies deeply and forms a complex network underground. One steep, almost non-branching root departs from the multi-headed rhizome, which penetrates into the ground for several meters. At a depth of 30-40 cm underground, horizontal underground shoots with a length of 1-2 m depart from it in different directions, bearing buds at the ends, from which daughter plants grow. Only in places do shoots break or dry up, disrupting communication between individuals. Thus, licorice spreads over large areas and forms thickets, renewing from scraps of shoots of one plant. Stems are erect, simple or branched, 50-80 cm high, rarely up to 150 cm, glabrous or slightly pubescent. Leaves are alternate, pinnate, short-petiolate. Leaflets are sticky, 2-4 cm long and 1-2.5 cm wide, on short petioles, oblong-ovate or lanceolate. Flowers sit in rather loose axillary racemes on shortly pubescent, like the inflorescence axis, peduncles 3-5 cm long; bracts subulate, hairy. The flowers are purple, the wings and the lower part of the flag are whitish. Fruits are straight leathery unilocular brown beans. Seeds are compressed, smooth, broadly oval, yellowish-brown. They reproduce mainly vegetatively and sometimes by seeds. Blooms in May - July; seeds ripen in July - September.

Along with licorice naked, to obtain medicinal raw materials, they use Ural licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.) And Korzhinsky licorice (Glycyrrhiza korshinskyi Grig.). The first is distributed from the Ural River to Transbaikalia and the eastern part of Central Asia; the second in Kazakhstan, on the interfluves of the Volga, Ural, Tobol, Ishim and Sarysu. Ural licorice has dense, almost capitate flower clusters with larger flowers than those of licorice naked, a calyx with a sack-like swelling and fruits swirling in inflorescences and forming a spiny ball. Korzhinsky's licorice differs from naked licorice in sickle-curved fruits.

Ural licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)Ural licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)

All of the listed types of licorice should not be mixed with bristly licorice(Glycyrrhiza echinata L.), which is widespread in the floodplains of rivers in the south of the European part of the country and in the west of Kazakhstan and is known as "beluga whales". Its roots are almost unsweetened, white, flowers are collected in an almost round capitate inflorescence, and the fruits form a spherical brownish-red compound fruit, consisting of a large number of prickly, prickly, short beans.

Bristle licorice (Glycyrrhiza echinata)Bristly licorice (Glycyrrhiza echinata)

In the Transcaucasus, licorice naked is likely to be confused with Macedonian licorice (Glycyrrhiza macedonica Boiss.), Very similar in character to bristly licorice and also having white roots. These two types are not used in scientific medicine.


Medicinal raw materials


In culture, this plant is grown only out of curiosity, the main raw material that comes to pharmacies from nature. The roots and rhizomes of licorice in the southern states can be harvested almost all year round. In Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, a short break is made only in December - January, at the time of frost; in Kazakhstan - from November to March. If the raw material is dug up in the summer to facilitate collection, it is advisable to mow the aboveground mass for silage or hay, then green shoots do not interfere with the selection of roots. The easiest way when harvesting in large volumes is to plow the roots with a plantation plow, which turns the raw material from a depth of 50-70 cm. You can also dig it with shovels, but this is quite time consuming and possible with small volumes of workpieces. Up to 75% of all roots and rhizomes are usually selected from the swath layer (with a large sod layer of the layer up to 50%). And those that remain in the soil ensure the regeneration of the plant. Re-procurement of raw materials in the same area is possible in 6-8 years, during which the thickets are usually completely restored. On their own site, raw materials are harvested in the fall. It will take a long and deep digging, so prepare yourself mentally. After digging with a pruning shears, separate the aboveground part, shake off the roots from the ground, remove the top cork layer with a knife and cut into pieces so that it is easier to use later. Thin roots do not need to be peeled. Raw materials can be dried at a temperature not exceeding 60 degrees.

Active ingredients


Licorice root contains mono- and disaccharides (glucose, fructose, sucrose), pectin substances, starch, lipids, flavonoids. The main active ingredient is considered to be triterpene saponin - glycerrhizin, the content of which ranges from 2 to 18%. Flavonoids and isoflavonoids (up to 4%), chalcones, coumarins (herniarin and umbelliferone), organic acids (4%), glycerritic acid, ascorbic acid, bitterness, steroids, essential oils, sugars, pigments, gums, resins ( up to 4%), sterols (b-sitosterol, estriol), asparagine and mucus.

The aerial part of the plant contains tannins, flavonoids, essential oils, sugars, pigments and, probably, it is tasty for pests, because aphids are very fond of it, which often simply sticks to the inflorescences.


Application in official and traditional medicine


Glycyrrhizin and glycyrritic acid in licorice have a similar effect to deoxycorticosterone.

Flavonoids of licorice act anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic; mucus and gums are responsible for the laxative and expectorant effect of the plant. Water extracts have an expectorant and anti-inflammatory effect. Licorice root has a strong enveloping, diuretic, desensitizing effect. Chinese doctors refer to licorice root as a rejuvenating agent. Its widespread use in Chinese medicine is explained by the fact that the saponins contained in licorice increase the absorption of active substances of other plants in the intestine. But the flip side of this medal is that the simultaneous administration of drugs in the usual dose can cause an overdose effect.

Together with other medicinal plants, it is used for acute and chronic pyelonephritis. Licorice roots are used in traditional medicine of the countries of the East for urological diseases, as a tonic and tonic agent, enhancing sexual potency, for nephritis, difficulty urinating, diseases of the genitourinary organs. In Central Asia, licorice was prescribed for diseases of the kidneys and bladder. The experiment found that licorice has an antibiotic effect against streptococcus, staphylococcus, viruses, protozoa, fungi.

Bulgarian traditional medicine recommends the use of licorice for urinary obstruction due to prostate adenoma.This empirically established, beneficial therapeutic effect of licorice is most likely due to the beta-sitosterol contained in it, which has recently been considered an effective treatment for prostate adenoma.

Preparations from licorice roots are prescribed to patients with chronic adrenal insufficiency, which helps to restore normal hormonal balance in the male body. The use of licorice, along with hormone replacement therapy with glucocorticoids (prednisolone, cortisone, etc.), allows to reduce the dose of hormonal drugs by 4-5 times. It was found that this plant has an estrogenic activity exceeding 10,000 IU per 1 kg of dry rhizomes with roots. The use of licorice herb as a source of phytoestrogens is considered promising.

The plant is effective for diathesis, allergic dermatitis, eczema and some other diseases. The therapeutic effect of licorice in these cases is explained by the presence of glycyrrhizic acid in it, which is similar in structure to steroid hormones.

Under the influence of licorice, there is also a good laxative effect (especially at an increased dose), which is associated with the presence of the glycoside liquoricin.

Licorice is used to treat acute inflammatory diseases of the upper respiratory tract and respiratory system, allergic rhinitis, pharyngitis, whooping cough and bronchial asthma.

Licorice is used to treat gastritis and gastric ulcer accompanied by constipation, with food poisoning. It is believed to reduce the production of stomach acid.

Stimulates the activity of the adrenal glands, which is very important when withdrawing corticosteroids. Licorice has a detoxifying effect - it removes poisons from the body and reduces their harmfulness. The use of licorice is recommended for long-term work in hazardous industries and with various chemicals. Licorice root is one of the most effective anti-allergic and desensitizing herbal medicine. Licorice has a noticeable estrogenic activity, therefore it is used for ovarian hypofunction in women and as an integral part of the collection for adenoma and prostate cancer. It is prescribed for pathological menopause.

Licorice is effective for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.


Home use


The forms of use of licorice are very diverse. This is a powder of roots, and a decoction, and a cold infusion. Chinese medicine prefers to use fried roots and prepare a decoction from them. When cooking decoction the Chinese evaporate 2/3 of its volume.

A wonderful remedy for colds of the respiratory tract decoction of equal parts licorice and ginger root.

An easier way of cooking - boil 10 g of roots for 10 minutes, filter and take 1 tablespoon 3-4 times a day.

For rheumatoid arthritis and allergic diseases, it is better to cook cold infusion. The crushed roots are insisted for 8 hours in boiled water at room temperature. Licorice prepared in this way has a stronger stimulating effect on the adrenal cortex.


Contraindications licorice has quite a lot, and on many points the doctors have not yet come to a consensus. Pregnancy is an unambiguous contraindication for prescribing licorice preparations. Persons prone to diarrhea should be prescribed it with caution. Bulgarian doctors believe that if taken for a long time without interruption, licorice can cause swelling. In recent decades, many doctors exclude it from the number of products for children - this is due to the fact that the ingestion of hormonal compounds contained in it into the body can have a negative effect on the fragile hormonal system of the child. Well, and, accordingly, people with endocrine diseases also need to treat it with some caution.In addition, you need to consult a doctor if there are chronic liver diseases, hypertension, hypokalemia, severe forms of renal failure.


Other application


Licorice root is used in the food industry in the production of beer, kvass and tonic carbonated drinks (Baikal), sweets, halva.

Growing on the site


You can and even need to have it in your home pharmaceutical garden (it is not always possible to find its raw materials in a pharmacy). The site, which, given the aggressive nature of the plant for the development of the surrounding space, should be away from paths, a favorite lawn, a well-groomed flower garden or a neat slide. It is better to prepare it in advance by clearing it of perennial weeds. In the "licorice" area, in no case should water stagnate in the spring, this greatly oppresses the plants. The place for sowing should be sunny, preferably with rather loose soil and away from the main garden. She tends to creep around the area with tremendous persistence and even crawl out of the cracks in the asphalt path. Therefore, I recommend “isolating” it.

Naked licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

You can sow seeds in early spring, but with good warming of the soil, seedlings appear faster. Before sowing, it is better to scarify the seedlings with sandpaper - this procedure will significantly increase the germination of seeds. It would be possible to plant the seedlings in pots in advance, and then transfer them to a permanent place, but the plants in the room stretch very much (try growing beans on the window, for example, and it will be the same).

Seeds are sown to a depth of 2-3 cm. Seedlings begin to appear in 1.5-3 weeks, depending on the temperature. At first, they develop very slowly. In the first year, a rather dead blade of grass usually grows, which needs to be protected from weeds like a child. At first, you can water it. But in subsequent years, when licorice grows, it is not afraid of frost, nor heat. Only it grows back in spring rather late, so if there is nothing in the garden right after the snow melts, then do not be alarmed.

Perennial plants are not afraid of droughts. One of the roots becomes very long and penetrates deep into the ground. At a depth of 25-30 cm, horizontal shoots with a bud at the end extend in different directions from the rhizome. They carry out the conquest of the territory. With their help, plants in spring and autumn can be successfully propagated vegetatively.

When leaving, it is better not to allow sodding, then the plants grow better. In addition, every autumn, you can sprinkle the plantation with a layer of compost 3-5 cm thick. This is both a top dressing and a shelter for plants in winter. But the introduction of a large amount of potassium is contraindicated in licorice, the content of some important active substances decreases.

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