“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” is a philosophy made famous by the magical nanny Mary Poppins in the 1960’s. However, had Mary Poppins been an herbalist she would have enchanted the world with another song entirely. Licorice root, or sweet root, has a candied flavor that distinguishes it as a crown jewel in herbalism. Moist and inviting, licorice root makes the flavors of other herbs tolerable, and invites those in need to sip or swallow willingly. To be sure, licorice root has a singular and sugary flavor, without even a hint of fennel or anise spice, which are generally associated with black licorice.
Categorically known as a “harmonizer,” licorice root makes disparate ingredients come together in formula and unifies herbal energetics within the body. Used for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine, licorice root is known for moving Chi, improving energy, supporting a healthy inflammation response, and moistens dry tissues. Most herbs are drying, so licorice root’s ability to soothe and moisten membranes at the same time distinguishes it as great support for respiratory, digestive, and urinary health. When the individual constituents of licorice root meet moisture in the body, they create a sweet mucilage used to lubricate and calm spasmodic, dry, or inflamed coughs.
Licorice root is exacting in its actions; supporting and promoting a healthy adrenal cortex. It also creates a protective layer on the mucous membranes allowing the healing process to begin. Used in formulation to soothe and moisten, licorice root is in fact the divine harmonizer for any cough, nose, mouth, throat, and lung formula, and is nursemaid to any ailing or inflamed stage of indigestion.
English botanist Sir John Hill, writing in 1740, noted that licorice root’s “virtues are very great.” Indeed, its healing abilities extend far beyond rotection of the mucosal lining to support for pain, healthy blood pressure levels, clearing heat and normalizing fatigued or adrenals of modern times.
Elizabeth Willis, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Medical Herbalist