Brief History and Botanical Description of licorice.


Brief History and Botanical Description of licorice root.:

Licorice Root Liquiritia officinalis Glycyrrhiza glabra Liquorice was one of the most widely known medicines in ancient history, and records of its use include Assyrian tablets of around 2000 BC and Chinese herbals of the same period. Theophrastos of Lesbos, writing in the fourth century BC wrote that 'it has the property of quenching thirst if one holds it in the mouth'. Dioscorides gave the plant its botanical name (Greek glukos = sweet, riza = root). Its 13th century English name was Lycorys, a corruption of glycyrrhiza. The plant originated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but has been cultivated in Europe since at least the 16th century. In China, G. uralensis or gan cao, known as the 'great detoxifier', is thought to drive poisons from the system. It is also an important tonic, often called 'the grandfather of herbs'. Gan cao is used as an energy tonic, particularly for the spleen and stomach, and the root is added to many Chinese formulae to balance other herbs. It is also used for asthmatic coughs, as an antispasmodic and ulcer remedy, and to cool 'hot' conditions. The dried root is given to Chinese children to promote muscle growth. Liquorice is often used as a method for disguising the taste of medicines and as a flavouring in confectionery.

 Roman legions considered licorice an indispensable ration for their long grueling campaigns. It was said soldiers could go up to 10 days without eating or drinking as the licorice properties helped to build stamina and energy, which allayed both hunger and thirst. In the year 1305, King Edward I, placed a duty on licorice sales, which went to help finance the repair of London Bridge. Ancient Hindus believed it increased sexual vigour when taken with milk and sugar. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, herbs were used as special foods, serving to eliminate excesses as well as strengthen deficiencies, restore and rejuvenate. Licorice works on the digestive, respiratory, nervous, reproductive and excretory systems. It is an effective expectorant, often combined with ginger to help liquefy mucus and facilitate its discharge. Combined with cardamom and ginger it is considered a tonic for the teeth. Licorice is used to calm the mind, nourish the brain and increase cranial and cerebrospinal fluid, and to benefit vision, voice, hair, complexion and stamina.

 Glycyrrhiza Glabra Licorice PlantLicorice is a time-honoured herb in Chinese medicine, dating back thousands of years. Chinese doctors divided their medicinals into 3 classes, according to their reputed properties. Licorice was listed amongst drugs of the first class because it preserved the life of man. The first class herbs were considered not poisonous, so no matter how much you took or how often you used them, they were not harmful. This supreme group of herbs was used to strengthen the respiratory system, keep the body agile and alert, allowing one to age in years without ageing in body. One longevity formula was made of 20% licorice, 40% gotu kola, 30% ginseng, 10% cayenne, with 2-4g of the formula taken 3 times a day. Chinese medicine was often called the medicine of harmony, as the whole focus was on the creation and expression of harmony, a most meaningful basis of health care. Almost all Chinese herbs are used in mixed formulas that may combine 2 or more herbs. Licorice was in many of these formulas, as I was told by a Chinese herbalist, "You always throw a bit in, it helps to detoxify very strong herbs". Chinese herbalism applies the principle of prevention by emphasizing the use of tonics and adaptogen, using plants that regulate, strengthen and invigorate the whole body. Ten different bioflavonoids have been found in licorice, that have an effect of strengthening the immune system, fighting cancer cells, and protecting from cancer.

 Description of Licorice root and different species:

 Licorice Root Liquiritia officinalis Glycyrrhiza glabraGlycyrrhiza is a tall, erect perennial plant with light, gracefully-spreading pinnate foliage and dark green lanceolate leaflets that hang down at night. Long-stemmed spikes of numerous bluish-purple to white papillonaceous flowers grow from the leaf axils and appear from June to August, followed by small leguminous smooth-skinned seed pods. The roots are brown, long and cylindrical. Glycyrrhiza is native to south-eastern Europe and south-west Asia to Iran, growing in open fields close to running water. It was commercially cultivated until recently in northern England.

 It is believed the plant originates from the East, however, it has been grown since early times in China, Africa, Europe, India and the Middle East. A very hardy, deciduous perennial to 1 metre or taller, growing from a strong root system made up of a taproot and many horizontal-spreading roots, spanning out 1 metre or more. Roots are 1-5cm thick, have a brown woody appearance, a yellow colour internally with fibre that can be pulled apart like long string. Above ground foliage forms on upright thin stems, pinnate leaves with 4-8 pairs of dark green elliptic leaflets 2-3cm long of fern-like appearance. Young leaves feel slightly sticky to touch. Lavender/blue pea flowers 1cm long form as axil clusters, followed by 2-3cm long smooth, brown pods containing 1-7 brown kidneyshaped, pinhead-sized seeds.

 Plant licorice in well-limed, well-drained, loose, deep soil; preferably in a sunny position. If soil tends to be clayey, plant on raised beds or hills. Enriching the soil with compost and well-rotted animal manure is beneficial. Licorice should be given room to spread, at least 1-3 square metres. It is a good sign when the plant starts to sucker and send up new shoots, as it signifies roots are growing, with potential for future harvesting. It is the root that gives the flavouring, sweetness and therapeutic uses. Low growing annual herbs or vegetables can be grown around it for 1-2 years.

 Licorice Root Liquiritia officinalis Glycyrrhiza glabra Wild TypeCollection:To assure high quality of the roots, they are collected with a minimum 7 mm diameter and more than 30 cm in length, representing mature roots with high levels of active components. The sliced root is prepared with oblique cuts, with 10 mm diameter slices, having brown bark and yellow cortex and pith, all aspects meeting the standards of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2000 Edition.

 Processing:Dig out roots and rhizomes in spring and autumn, with the ones collected in spring of better quality; cut away caudexes, young buds, branch roots and fibrous roots while fresh; cut roots and rhizomes into long sections; dry under the sun.

 1.Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.(Gan Cao): perennial herb, high 30-100cm. Very thick and rhizomes, skin reddish brown. Stem erect, with wood, white short hairs and bristle-like glands. Odd-numbered complex leaf length 8-20cm; leaflets 7-17, ovate or broadly ovate, 2-5cm long, wide 1-3cm, apex acute or blunt, base rounded, both sides of short hair and glands; care Leaves broadly lanceolate, white cilia. Racemes axillary, flowers dense; calyx campanulate, calyx teeth 5, lanceolate, outside short hairs and prickly hairy glands; corolla blue-purple, 1.4-2.5cm, glabrous, flag large, oval Shaped, claw, keel flap straight, shorter than the wing to defend, have long claw; stamens body, (9 +1). Pods stripe, curved sickle or ring, outside the dense hairy hairy thorn made. Seeds 4-8, kidney-shaped. Flowering from July to August, the fruit from August to September.

 2.Glycyrrhiza glabra L.(Guang Guo Gan Cao): perennial herb, about 1m high. Stems and branches are scaly glandular and white pubescent. Odd pinnately compound leaves 5-14 (-20) cm; leaflets 9-17, ovoid or oblong, 2-4 long, 0.8-2 cm wide, apex often emarginate, pubescent above, densely petiole below Scaly glandular; stipules lanceolate. Flowers lavender, dense, arranged into axillary spikes; calyx bell-shaped, with 5 equal lanceolate calyx teeth, both inside and outside of calyx teeth white glandular hair; flag long oval, about 11mm, flap About 9mm, claw is not obvious, keel flap length of about 8mm. Pod flat, long and narrow oval, slightly curved, 20-30mm long, 4-7mm wide, glabrous, sometimes with a few obvious adenoma. 3-4 seeds. Flowering from June to August, the fruit from July to September.

 3.Glycyrrhiza inflata Batal.(Zhang Guo Gan Cao): perennial, high 50-120cm, sometimes thick and woody base. Stems erect, often locally densely connected into pieces of yellowish brown scales glands, glandular hairless and pubescent, or rarely glabrous. Odd pinnate leaves 3-16cm; leaflets 3-7, oval, narrowly ovoid, oblong to oval, length 1.5-5cm, width 0.6-2.8cm, apex acute or blunt, base all round Shaped, the edge of the emblem of anti-roll, often obvious as a wave-like, above the dark green, yellowish brown gland, bright green below, with yellowish green gland, when young, such as gelatinous, shiny, Glabrous; petiole length 1-4mm. Racemes; flowers small, purple, arranged loosely. Pod oblong, short, 0.8-2 cm long, inflated, with or without dimples, puberulent and slightly inconspicuous adenoma. Seeds are small, 1-7. Flowering from June to August, the fruit from July to September.


  • 1.Licorice:Glycyrrhiza Glabra,Licorice Root Extract.

♥The article and literature were edited by Herbalist of MDidea Extracts Professional.It runs a range of descriptions about the titled herb and related phytochemicals, including comprehensive information related, summarized updating discoveries from findings of herbalists and clinical scientists from this field.The electronic data information published at our official website and, we tried to update it to latest and exact as possible.
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  • Name:Licorice Root Extract
  • Serie No:R017.
  • Specifications:10:1 TLC.
  • EINECS/ELINCS No.:283-895-2
  • CAS:84775-66-6
  • Chem/IUPAC Name:Glycyrrhiza Glabra Extract is an extract of the roots of the licorice,Glycyrrhiza glabra,Leguminosae
  • Other Names:Liquiritia Officinalis Extract,Reglisse,lacrisse,Chinese Licorice,Gan Cao,Kan-ts'ao,Kuo-lao,Licorice Root, Ling-t'ung,Liquorice,Mei-ts'ao,Mi-kan,Mi-ts'ao,Sweet Licorice,Sweet Wood,Gan Cao.

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Licorice Root Extract INCI Name GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA EXTRACT EINECS ELINCS No 283-895-2 CAS 84775-66-6 photo picture image

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