by: Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta (

Licorice root is a herb well known to many traditions. Its Latin name is Glycyrrhiza glabra, the Chinese name is Gan cao, and the Sanskrit name is Yasthi Madhu.

This tonic herb is cooling in its action and sweet in taste. It is particularly balancing to Vata and Pitta doshas. In large dosage it may increase one’s Kapha after long-term usage. As it has an effect on all of the tissue levels, it is beneficial to all seven dhatus. Having a sattvic quality, it assists the body in creating ojas (the most subtle, refined level of manifest creation, which allows consciousness to flow in the physiology).

One of Licorice’s primary roles is to act as an expectorant. It allows mucous to be loosened gently, making it useful in treating colds and flus. When combined with ginger root, it is even more effective. You can make a tea by simmering tsp. of both licorice and ginger in 12 to 16 oz of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Coughs, sore throat, laryngitis and inflamed bronchial tubes are also helped from drinking this tea. Chronic lung and sinus conditions will find relief from this soothing drink.

The slight laxative effect is good for the bowels. Those with difficulty with elimination may put tsp. of the herb in a cup of warm water and drink daily. Having a cup regularly is beneficial to a women’s menstrual cycle. Being a gentle diuretic makes it effective for symptoms of PMS.

Anti-inflammatory, the tea may be taken for hyperacidity, fevers, malaria, ulcers, bladder and liver conditions.

Adding powdered Licorice root to herbal formulas harmonizes the qualities of the herbs and improves the taste. Dosage should be according to your needs, average would be 1/3 tsp. to tsp. per individual dose. It has anti-aging properties, increasing longevity. In Chinese medicine it is said that licorice will clean the meridians and allow Chi to flow smoothly. A nerve tonic, it is calming to the mind.

Regulating blood sugar, it may be taken by someone with fluctuating blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). It should not be used with high blood pressure as it can increase water around the heart. Long-term usage may inhibit calcium and potassium absorption, so should be avoided by those with osteoporosis.

The herb may be taken in capsule form. One capsule is equivalent to to 1/3 tsp. of Licorice.

Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta is a chiropractor who specializes in the ancient healing science of Ayurveda. Dr. Cravatta has had more than 25 years experience with practicing meditation and yoga.

In her private practice in Palo Alto and San Rafael she offers individual and phone consultations, marma therapy, workshops and meditation classes.

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Note: The information provided herein is of general nature, and should not be construed as professional medical advice.