A native of the Mediterranean region and southwest Asia, liquorice has been valued for its sweet taste since ancient times. The Romans also used it as a remedy for asthma and coughs. Its cultivation spread to northern Europe in the 15th century. A related Asian species (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) is known as "the grandfather of herbs:, and is widely used in Chinese medicine. Liquorice support adrenal function. It is a useful demulcent and anti-inflammatory for treating irritated mucus membranes and stomach or duodenal ulcer, also stimulating repair and regeneration of these tissues. Liquorice is commonly used in herbal formulas as a flavouring agent and to harmonise and enhance the activities of other herbs.
Take 40 drops–1 tsp (2–5ml) 3 times daily for gastritis, peptic ulceration, mouth ulcers, or excessive stomach acid. Add a similar amount to cough syrups.
Take 20–40 drops (1–2ml) 3 times a day to strengthen the adrenal glands, especially after steroidal therapy, or as a digestive tonic. Liquid extracts of liquorice are incompatible with acids and should not be taken in citrus juices.
Basic tea or decoction of the sliced, fresh or dried root. Drink 1 cup (1/2–1 tsp dry root per cup boiling water) up to 3 times daily to reduce stomach acid and ease any inflammation or ulceration. Take 1 cup last thing at night for mild constipation.
Combine the decoction with an equal amount of honey to make a cough syrup. Combines well with thyme, hyssop, or elecampane for chest problems including bronchitis, asthma, and chest infections.
Add 1 tsp (5ml) of tincture to 13/4fl oz (50ml) of warm water to bathe skin inflammations and irritant skin rashes.
"Liquorice sticks" consist of fresh or dried sections of liquorice root. These can be chewed as needed, and are often used in treating tabacco addiction, providing a tactile substitute to cigarettes and also facilitating discharge of mucus from the upper respiratory tract.
Prefers deep, neutral to alkaline, well-drained soil in full sun. Sow seeds in autumn or spring and transplant into 3in (7.5cm) pots when large enough. Grow in containers until sturdy enough to plant.
Gather the roots of three- or four-year-old plants during dormancy in autumn.