Glycyrrhiza glabra

A hardy perennial growing to 1.5m (4.6ft) in height. Leaves are elliptical in shape, green in colour and sticky on the underside. The clusters of blue-violet flowers are plentiful. Fruit up to 2cm long. The root system is comprised of taproots, branch rootstock and runners. Long cylindrical roots 14-20m in length and 5-20mm in diameter with a yellow coloured interior. In the fourth year of growth the roots are harvested, washed and dried.

Family: Leguminosae

Which probiotic is it in?: Liquorice is a key herb in Breathe and Kids

Habit and cultivation: Native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia, now cultivated worldwide. Grown from seed, prefers a cooler climate and plenty of rain but can’t get water-logged. New growth appears in late spring.

Actions (known for): Adaptogen, adrenal restorative, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-tussive, demulcent, mild laxative, hypertensive, oestrogenic. Topically: anti-viral and acne.


Liquorice has been widely used by Chinese and Ayurvedic as well as Western herbal medicine throughout history. Glycyrrhiza is derived from the Greek meaning ‘sweet root’. Since the 1950s there has been a lot of scientific research resulting in the development of an anti-ulcer drug.

Parts used:


Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Triterpenes, Flavonoids, coumarins, chalcones, polysaccharides, volatile oil, saponins, bitters, and smaller amounts of starch, sugars and amino acids.

Nutritional constituents:

Vitamins: B complex, E. Minerals: phosphorus, manganese, iodine, chromium, zinc and lecithin.


Acne (topically), Addison’s disease, androgen excess, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, cough, eczema, endometriosis, gout, IBS, polycystic ovary syndrome, stress and stomach ulcers.


Liquid extract (1:1): 15-40ml per week. Decoction: 1-4g 3 x daily.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Spasmodic asthma with secondary bronchitis.

Cautions for therapeutic doses

Fluid retention leading to hypertension and oedema, pregnancy, cirrosis of the liver.

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