top of page



Botanical Name

Glycyrrhiza glabra (European), Glycyrrhiza uralensis (Chinese)

Common Name

Licorice, liquorice


Fabaceae (Leguminosae)

Parts Used


Native To

Europe, northern Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America

Harvesting Guidelines

Harvest root in autumn after 2-3 seasons of growth.


Licorice has a long history of medicinal use, dating back thousands of years in various cultures around the world. The root and rhizomes of the plant are particularly valued for their sweet, yellowish flesh. The plant's genus name, Glycyrrhiza, comes from the Greek words for "sweet" and "root," while the Romans called it liquiritia, which eventually became "licorice." Licorice root can be consumed in a variety of forms for medicinal purposes, including infusions, decoctions, syrups, tinctures, powders, and capsules. It is often used in combination with other herbs for maximum effectiveness. Additionally, licorice root extract is a popular flavoring agent in confections, liqueurs, and tobacco products.(1)

Licorice root has been used for centuries for its soothing and healing properties. Its polysaccharides make it an excellent demulcent, which means it can help soothe and moisten dry and irritated tissues. Licorice is particularly effective for hot and dry afflictions such as sore throats, dry coughs, and gastric irritation like ulcers. In Ayurvedic medicine, licorice is known for its ability to reduce inflammation in the mucous membranes throughout the body. Licorice also acts as an antispasmodic, relieving painful coughing and gastric cramping. Its expectorant action helps to clear congestive mucus from the lungs, making it a popular remedy for respiratory issues.(2)

Licorice, known for its sweet taste, also has antiviral properties. Its primary antiviral component is glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar. Licorice can prevent viruses from entering cells, directly kill viruses, or stimulate the immune system to attack viruses. It is effective against a variety of viruses, including strains of influenza, respiratory infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, herpes simplex, and hepatitis. Additionally, licorice has some antibacterial properties.(3)

Licorice has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its various health benefits. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is used as a Qi tonic to improve nutrient absorption and appetite. In Western medicine, it is known for its ability to stimulate the adrenal cortex and balance the immune system. Licorice is also considered an adaptogen, meaning it can help the body adapt to stress and improve overall health. Additionally, licorice is known to be an excellent tonic for the endocrine system and can help with adrenal exhaustion.(4)

Licorice is a versatile herb that is often used in combination with other herbs or drugs to enhance their effects and reduce their toxicity. It is known for its ability to soften any harshness in taste, warmth, moisture, or toxicity. In Chinese medicine, licorice is referred to as the "Great Adjunct" or "Great Harmonizer" because of its ability to blend and harmonize herbal formulations. Additionally, licorice's sweet taste makes it a popular choice for improving the palatability of herbal remedies that may have less pleasant-tasting ingredients.(5)


Adult Dose (6)

Decoction: ½ to 1 teaspoon per cup of boiling water, simmered for 10 minutes, three times a day. Powder: 1 to 2 grams of powdered root 1 to 3 times a day.* Tincture: 1.5-3 mL of a 1:5 tincture up to three times a day.


Licorice should not be taken long-term (more than 4 to 6 weeks) or in high doses. Licorice can induce a drop in potassium, leading to high blood pressure, weakness, and eventually congestive heart failure. Those with high blood pressure, heart, liver, and kidney disease, diabetes, and pregnant women should not use whole licorice. In general, licorice should be taken in combination with other herbs to reduce potential side effects . The deglycyrrhized extract (which has had the glycyrrhizin removed) is safe to use, and has no side effects; however, if using licorice as an antiviral, the deglycyrrhized extract will be ineffective. Note that licorice has a mild laxative effect.(7)




(1)Buhner, Stephen. (2013). Herbal Antivirals. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

(2)Buhner, Stephen. (2013). Herbal Antivirals. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

(3)Buhner, Stephen. (2013). Herbal Antivirals. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

(4)Holmes, Peter. (1997). The Energetics of Western Herbs, Volume 1, Revised Third Edition. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press.

(5)Gladstar, Rosemary. (2001). Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.

(6)Winston, D, and Kuhn, Merrily. (2007). Herbal Therapy and Supplements. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Wiliams & Wilkins. (7)Buhner, Stephen. (2013). Herbal Antivirals. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.


Scientific Research:

Information offered on Achula and on this page is for educational purposes only. Achula makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or nursing, and persons with known medical conditions, should consult their licensed healthcare provider before taking any herbal product. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. Achula neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.


bottom of page