Native to southern Europe and certain parts of Asia, licorice is a legume which belongs to the same plant family as fennel, star anise and anise. This plant is perennial and grows up to 1m in height, and is known for its distinct smell, which is used in several flavoring agents. The extracts of licorice, which are now used around the world for different purposes, is usually prepared by boiling the roots of this plant in water, and allowing most of the water to evaporate.

Licorice is marketed today as a flavoring agent for tobacco, and is also used to flavor many candies, sweets and is also a part of Chinese cuisine. Licorice extracts are also known to contain many medicinal properties.

Here are some of the most common uses of licorice in the field of medicine.

  • Licorice contains a compound known as glycyrrhizic acid, which is extremely beneficial when it comes to protecting the liver from the side effects associated with tuberculosis therapy.
  • Patients suffering from postural tachycardia syndrome can benefit by taking licorice extracts.
  • Licorice extracts are also well known for their anti-stress and anabolic agent.
  • The efficiency of licorice in treating a wide range of illnesses is what makes it a favorite among herbal medicine practitioners. Licorice possesses several balancing and harmonizing agents, which soothe and heal ulcers of the stomach.
  • Licorice extracts may also be helpful in controlling blood sugar, soothing cough, reducing inflammation of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts and also in balancing hormones.
  • Several herbal medicines used to deal with internal ulcers also use licorice extracts. Licorice contains substances that protect the internal linings of the gastrointestinal system from damage and also increase the mucus secreting action of the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Some studies even suggest that licorice may be helpful in treating canker sores, and its anti-viral properties could be useful in dealing with hepatitis and herpes.
  • It is also believed that licorice extracts could lessen the damage of stomach acid to the internal lining of the gastrointestinal lining.