This week, we'll be looking into the medicinal world of licorice. The form of licorice used medicinally are of the genus Glycirrhiza. The Latin names for the species most commonly used for medicinal treatment are Glycirrhiza glabra, Glycirrhiza glandulifera, and Glycirrhiza uralensis; another Latin name for licorice is Liquiritia officinalis. Licorice, whichever variety it is derived from, is used in the same medicinal ways; the Latin names will be used when noting any differences.Its other names include: licorice root, liquorice, sweet root, and Gan Zao. It is important to note the difference between licorice and licorice flavoring; the latter is most often flavored with anise, which has the characteristic licorice flavor, and is not to be confused with licorice herb for medicinal use.
Licorice has been widely used in most of Europe since the Middle Ages, and is also well known through Asia. The various species are indigenous to south-eastern Europe, Syria, and Western Asia; Hungary, south Russia and Asia Minor; Turkestan Mongolia, and Siberia; and the north-western United States. Licorice prefers the sandy soil near streams and the fine soil of river valleys in warm climates.
Licorice is a slow-starter, growing to only about a foot tall in its first year. However, once it takes hold, it can be difficult to remove. Its roots grow deep and wide, and the plant often prevents other plants from growing nearby. All varieties of licorice are considered shrubs, consisting of many woody stalks with green leafs of varying sizes and shapes. G. glabrai has long, narrow leaves, while other varieties of rounder leaves. At the top of each stalk blooms a spike of small pale-blue, violet, yellowish-white or purplish flowers, followed by small seed pods. In G. glabra, these pods are smooth; other varieties have hairy or spiny seed pods.
The main effects of licorice are soothing respiratory and digestive conditions, and anti-inflammatory.
Licorice is used primarily internally, taken as an extract made from the root. It can also be taken as a tea or tincture, likewise made from the root.
Ailments which indicate treatment with licorice include: Addison’s disease, allergic rhinitis, arthritis, athlete’s foot, baldness, bronchitis, bursitis, canker sores, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, chronic fatigue, colds, colitis and intestinal infections, conjunctivitis, constipation, coughs, dandruff, depression, duodenal-ulcers, emphysema, exhaustion, fibromyalgia, flu, fungal infections, gastritis, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, hay fever, heartburn, hepatitis, inflamed gallbladder, liver disease, Lyme disease, menopause, prostate enlargement, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, spleen disorders, tendinitis, throat problems, tuberculosis, ulcers, viral infections, yeast infections, heartburn, indigestion.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
It is not recommended to take licorice if you are pregnant or breast-feeding; if you are taking a narcotic; or if you are going into surgery. Licorice interacts with many prescription medicines; it is especially important not to take licorice alongside Warfarin (used to slow blood clotting) as it may decrease the effectiveness of Warfarin and increase the risk of clotting. Licorice may increase blood pressure, decrease potassium, and affect hormone levels; it is not recommended to be taken with blood pressure medications, estrogens, and a variety of prescription medications that also decrease potassium.
Latin Name: Glycirrhiza glabra, Glycirrhiza glandulifera, Glycirrhiza uralensis, Liquiritia officinalis
Medicinal Actions: Demulcent, Moderately pectoral, Emollient, Anti-inflammatory, Estrogenic, Laxative, Soothing, Expectorant, Anti-allergic, Anti-arthritic.
Indications: Addison’s disease, allergic rhinitis, arthritis, athlete’s foot, baldness, bronchitis, bursitis, canker sores, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, chronic fatigue, colds, colitis and intestinal infections, conjunctivitis, constipation, coughs, dandruff, depression, duodenal-ulcers, emphysema, exhaustion, fibromyalgia, flu, fungal infections, gastritis, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, hay fever, heartburn, hepatitis, inflamed gallbladder, liver disease, Lyme disease, menopause, prostate enlargement, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, spleen disorders, tendinitis, throat problems, tuberculosis, ulcers, viral infections, yeast infections, heartburn, indigestion.
Contraindications: While pregnant or breast-feeding; concurrently with prescription drugs, particularly Warfarin and ones known to cause liver toxicity, or psychiatric medications; going into surgery; high blood pressure; heart disease; hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids; low potassium; kidney disease, seizure disorder.
- Licorice Root and Malt Beer Beef Stew -
- 2 lbs beef (or veal; cheeks, chuck or foreshank)
- 2 yellow onion
- 2 celery (branches)
- 1 garlic
- 2 carrots
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsps butter
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (or cherry)
- 7 ozs prunes (slightly macerated)
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 4 bay leaf
- 4 rosemary (branches)
- 4 licorice root (slices)
- 41/2 cups beef stock (or water)
- 3 cups beer (malt)
- salt (and pepper)
Remove all tendons and fat from the meat. If the pieces are very large, cut them into smaller ones. Pat the meat dry, and then season. Generously with salt and pepper and let it rest in the fridge for at least one hour, preferable overnight.
- Chop onions, celery, garlic and carrots into smaller pieces.
- Dredge the meat in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Heat the butter in a large and deep pan and brown the meat on all sides. Make sure not to crowd the pan. When meat is browned transfer to a plate.
- Add the vegetables and chili and sauté until it starts to change color.
- Add vinegar to the vegetables and cook until almost all of the vinegar has evaporated.
- Add back the meat as well as the prunes, bay leafs, rosemary and licorice root. Finally add stock/water and the malt beer.
- Bring to a simmer and skim off any fat.
- Cover and let simmer for 3-4 hours, until the meat is tender and falling apart by itself. Skim off fat, should there be some.
- Remove the meat from the put and keep it warm. Also remove bay leaf, rosemary and licorice root.
- Pass the sauce through a sieve and reduce until you think its consistency is as you prefer it. Add sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar in quantities according to you taste.
- You can choose to either add the "old" vegetables or add some new ones to the sauce. In any case, add the prunes and the meat and heat thoroughly.
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