Licorice: A Sweet, Soothing Ayurvedic Botanical
For many of us, the word “licorice” conjures up thoughts of sweet, black and red ropes of candy. But the licorice plant is more than just a flavoring for sugary confections—it has a long tradition of therapeutic use in Ayurveda.
The licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is native to parts of Europe and Asia and grows anywhere from three to five feet tall. But the real benefit of the plant is in its extensive root system, which grows horizontally beneath the soil. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, the twig-like roots were known as Yashtimadhu, or “sweet stick,” and recognized as a rasayana (rejuvenative tonic) in Ayurveda.
Today, ground licorice root remains an important ingredient in many synergistic Ayurvedic formulas and teas. It’s also very beneficial as a standalone supplement, and beautifully balances all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Here are three reasons licorice is so often used in Ayurveda:
1. It’s a Sweet Stomach Soother
For thousands of years, the sweet, stick-like root of the licorice plant has been used in Ayurveda to soothe stomach complaints like acidity, occasional heartburn, and other digestive discomforts. Licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, which supports liver health while promoting a healthy inflammatory response in the body. To balance stomach acidity and soothe the odd bout of heartburn, try our single-herb Organic Licorice —which contains naturally occurring glycyrrhizin— or Aci Balance, our synergistic blend specifically for occasional acid indigestion.
A word about glycyrrhizin: research suggests that licorice consumption can affect blood pressure, but those findings generally refer to high doses of licorice extract or concentrated licorice, which feature larger quantities of glycyrrhizin. Some supplement companies now offer deglycerized licorice (or DGL—essentially, licorice without the glycyrrhizin). But at vpk, our Organic Licorice tablets contain the whole licorice root, not just the extract, offering you the full benefit of this botanical, with a recommended dosage that is safe for consumption. That being said, we always recommend checking with your doctor before taking licorice if you have high blood pressure.
2. It Supports Clear Breathing
Licorice is a natural demulcent (something that soothes the mucous membranes) and helps balance moisture and mucous in the upper body and respiratory system. This is one of the reasons you’ll find licorice in many of our traditional Ayurvedic formulas that support clear breathing and general immunity, such as Sniffle Free and Cold Weather Defense.
3. It Can Comfort the Throat
Because of its demulcent properties, licorice can be very comforting to the throat—which is why it’s a key ingredient in our cooling, soothing Clear Throat syrup. You’ll also find it in our Organic Calming Vata Tea (also available in loose leaf). In chilly weather, nothing’s better than sipping a sweet, comforting cup of Vata Tea to warm up.
A versatile Ayurvedic botanical, licorice plays an important role in a wide range of vpk formulas—from our Amrit Nectar Paste to our Joint Soothe II massage oil, our Liver Balance formula, and even some of our toothpastes and teas.
Sustainably & Responsibly Harvested
As with all of the ingredients in our traditional Ayurvedic formulas, you can rest assured knowing that our licorice is grown, harvested, and processed in an environmentally friendly way—without the use of toxic and harmful synthetic chemicals. Our licorice is also Certified USDA organic.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.