Liquorice Medicinal Benefits and How to Grow it
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a flowering perennial plant with purple and white flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean, and South and Central Asia. The most helpful part of this plant is the sweet tasting taproot that can grow up to four feet deep. This gray taproot (yellow on the inside) has been the feature of prescriptions since ancient times.
Hippocrates, the man who defined modern day medical practice in Ancient Greece, named the root of the plant ‘glukos riza’; the ‘sweet root’ – which is a clear indication of how sweet and pleasant tasting the root is.
Ayurvedic treatment has long prescribed this herb for the effective treatment of upper respiratory tract problems. But that is not the only use of this herb. Liquorice contains a blend of compounds which makes it a useful treatment for many different maladies, including ulcers, colds, and even as a mild laxative.
However, it is important not be liberal with the use of Liquorice. It can cause potassium deficiency and an increase in blood pressure, and high blood pressure patients, along with diabetics, should avoid Liquorice.
Cultivation of Liquorice
Liquorice is a very popular plant these days, and it should not be too difficult to obtain a few seeds of the plant from the nearest nursery. The important thing to remember is that Liquorice growing requires a bit of patience – it takes about three to four years for the roots to grow long enough to be harvested.
- Use a nail file to file off a little section of the husk of each seed.
- Soak the seeds in water for about 24 hours.
- Transfer the seeds into separate, sturdy 4 inch pots that can accommodate watering.
- Sprinkle about 1/4 inch of soil on the seeds. Give the seeds 8 to 10 hours of sunlight, and water regularly. Germination can take from a week to two weeks.
- When the seedlings are sturdy enough, transfer to a bed. The bed must be turned over well, with loose soil and no weeds.
- Dig holes into the soil, about three feet apart that are the same depth as the 4 inch pots, but about twice as wide.
- Slide the seedlings out of the pot and transfer to the holes. Sprinkle soil in loosely.
- Water the roots diligently for the first year. After a year of root growth, the plant comes fairly drought resistant.
Tips on Growing Liquorice
During the seedling stage, it is important to keep the pots well drained. Do not over water or the roots will rot.
It may be a good idea to grow separate batches of Liquorice every year, as Liquorice takes 4 years to grow. That way, you can consistently harvest Liquorice every year after four years.
Medicinal Uses of Liquorice
Liquorice roots are excellent cures for a wide array of health complications. The leaves and stems, too, can be useful. Prescribed since ancient times, it has been touted both through long experience of cure, and by modern scientific research based verification.
Cholesterol and cardiovascular health – Liquorice can help with reducing cholesterol by increasing the flow of bile. Liquorice root also contains antioxidants which can significantly increase capillary health and stop arterial plaque from depositing.
Relief from menstrual cramps – Liquorice contains anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic compounds, and even has mild levels of estrogen-like substances. So Liquorice can be used to relieve PMS symptoms.
Relief from herpes– Liquorice has antibacterial and anti-viral properties. This can help with preventing the return of cold sores from herpes.
Gastric relief – Liquorice helps cool down the stomach acid, relieving gastric troubles.
Depression cure – Liquorice has surprising mood enhancing properties. Researchers believe this is based in Liquorice’s ability to stimulate the adrenal glands. In any case, sipping on a well-made Liquorice tea can well uplift your mood.
However, Liquorice users need to be careful not to exceed recommended dosages. Liquorice can increase blood pressure and cause potassium deficiency.
Those suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes should stay off Liquorice concoctions.