Licorice benefits are known to Indians since thousands of years. Its Sanskrit name is Yashtimadhu. It is one of the most commonly used Ayurvedic herbs. In almost every Indian household, you might find this herb chewed, whenever someone’s voice has gone down.
Botanical name – Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn.
Family – Fabaceae
Habitat: This herb is cultivated in Himalayas.
Table of Contents
Vernacular names, Sanskrit synonyms
English name: Licorice / Liquorice
Hindi name – Mulethi, Jethimadhu
Tamil and Telugu name – Atimadhuram, Irattimadhuram
Hindi name: Muleti, Jetimadhu
Kannada name: Atimadhura, Jeshtamadhu
Telugu name: Yashtimadhukam
Bengali name: Yashtimadhu
Marathi name: Jeshtimadh
Gujarati name: Jethimadh
Yashtimadhu – has sweet root and stem
Madhuka – sweet
Klitaka – cures male infertlity
Glycyrrhiza glabra medicinal qualities:
Rasa (Taste) – Madhura (Sweet)
Guna (Properties) – Guru (Heavy), Snigdha (Unctuous)
Vipaka (Post digestion effect): Madhura (Sweet)
Veerya (Potency) – Sheeta (Cold)
Pharmacological actions – Hepatoprotective, Anti viral, Anti ulcer, Anti pyretic, Anti oxident, Expectorant
Action on Dosha
Vata-Pittahara (Pacifies the aggravated / morbid Vata and Pitta). Being heavy and unctuous and possessing sweet taste and post-digestion effect, which are antagonistic to Vata, Yashtimadhu pacifies (controls) it. Similarly Yashtimadhu pacifies the aggravated Pitta due to its sweet taste and post-digestion effect and also its cold potency.
Yastimadhu classical categorization
Charaka Samhita –
Jeevaneeya – herbs that promote longevity
Sandhaneeya – herbs that help in bone fracture healing and wound healing
Varnya – herbs that improve skin complexion
Kanthya – herbs that improve voice
Kandughna – Herbs that relieve itching sensation (pruritis)
Chardinigraha – Herbs that relieve vomiting
Shonitasthapana – Herbs that check bleeding
Mutravirajaneeya – Herbs that restore proper colour of urine
Snehopaga – herbs that are used in Snehana – a preparatory procedure before Panchakarma treatment
Vamanopaga – herbs that are used in Vamana (emesis) Panchakarma treatment
Asthapanopaga – herbs that are used in Basti Panchakarma treatment (rectal enema with decoctions)
Charaka has mentioned it as a plant source for oil. (Reference)
Sushruta Samhita – Kakolyadi, Sarivadi and Anjanadi group of herbs.
Vagbhata – – Sarvadi and Anjanadi group of herbs.
Bh P. Ni – Haritakyadi varga
D. Ni and Raja Ni – 2 types – Yashtimadhu and Kllitanaka
Roots of Glycyrrhiza glabra and Abrus precatorius are often adulterated with liquorice. Even stem pieces of Glycyrrhiza glabra is used as an adulterant
Habit – Tall perennial plant
Leaves – Compound, elliptic lanceolate
Inflorescence – Raceme
Flowers – Bluish or violet colour
Fruit – Pod, oblong to linear
Useful part – Roots and stolen
Licorice benefits as per Ayurveda
- Good for eye and eyesight / vision
- Provides good strength and immunity
- Enhances color and complexion
- Good aphrodisiac, increases the quantity and quality of semen
- Good hair tonic
- Excellent remedy for throat disorders, good for improving voice
- Heals ulcers, wounds and swelling / inflammation associated with wounds
- It neutralizes the bad effects of poisons and toxins. In Chinese medicine it was administered for treating food poisoning and its ill-effects
- Relieves thirst
- Relieves tiredness / exhaustion, provides energy
- Useful in relieving wasting disorders, degenerative diseases
- Good expectorant, expels phlegm from lungs, heals respiratory diseases
- Good for heart health, prevents damage from LDL cholesterol (Bad fat), Discourages clogging plaque formation which can damage heart
- Enhances immunity by boosting levels of interferon which is the key chemical of the immune system that fights off viruses (Research)
- Phyto-estrogens in Liquorice is said to have mild estrogenic effect and eases symptoms of Pre-menstrual syndrome like irritability, bloating, breast tenderness etc (Research)
- Has anti-allergic property and highly beneficial in allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, bronchial asthma (Research)
- Externally it has been effectively used in eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis
- Mild laxative
- It has powerful antioxidants, phyto-estrogens which are helpful during menopause
- It has antidepressant compounds and helps in warding off depression
- Good Brain Tonic
- Blood-purifier, Increases quality and quantity of blood, useful in bleeding disorder
- Relieves cough, chest congestion, sore-throat
- Relieves dysuria
- Promotes longevity of life
- Promotes fracture healing
- Ulcerative colitis: Due to its heaviness and coldness properties, licorice is very useful to balance down Pitta Dosha and to detoxify blood tissue. Ulcerative colitis is a Pitta aggravated disorder, where licorice is very useful. In this treatment, licorice is used for oral consumption in the form of hot infusion, tablet or power. Its decoction is also used for enema treatment.
Reference: Astanga Hrudayam, Kasa Chikitsita Adhyaya, 3/118-119.
During chronic cough, chest injury, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis etc conditions, 48 ml of juice of fresh licorice (or its decoction) is consumed daily along with milk. The dose is increased by 6 ml, everyday. This is continued for one month.
During this period, the patient should drink only milk and abstain from eating solid foods.
This recipe is best to promote nourishment, lifespan, strength, skin health and immunity.
पिबेन्नागबलामूलस्यार्धकर्षाभिवर्धितम् ॥ ११८ ॥
पलं क्षीरयुतं मासं क्षीरवृत्तिरनन्नभुक् ।
एष प्रयोगः पुष्ट्यायुर्बलवर्णकरः परम् ॥ ११९ ॥
मण्डूकपर्ण्याः कल्पोऽयं यष्ट्या विश्वौषधस्य च ।
pibennāgabalāmūlasyārdhakarṣābhivardhitam || 118 ||
palaṃ kṣīrayutaṃ māsaṃ kṣīravṛttiranannabhuk |
eṣa prayogaḥ puṣṭyāyurbalavarṇakaraḥ param || 119 ||
maṇḍūkaparṇyāḥ kalpo’yaṃ yaṣṭyā viśvauṣadhasya ca |
Licorice for anti aging treatment:
As per Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana 1.3, regular intake of 2 grams of licorice powder, along with half a cup of warm milk is explained as an excellent brain tonic and rejuvenator – Medhya Rasayana.
Liquorice is used in anti aging therapy since ancient times
Chakshushya – Good for eyes
Balakrut – Improves strength and immunity
Varnakrut – improves skin complexion
Shukrala – increases sperm count and semen quality
Keshya – good for hair. Improves hair quality. Hence it is used in many herbal hair oils.
Svarya – improves voice quality
How to apply Licorice on face?
Licorice if applied on face, can improve complexion, useful in acne, blemishes, acne scars, white heads and black heads.
If you have oily face, then make a paste of fine powder of licorice with water and apply it on face, leave it for 5 – 15 minutes, then wash off with hot water.
You can add red sandalwood powder – equal proportion to the above paste, to make it more effective.
If you have dry face –
Then mix 5 grams of licorice with 10-15 drops of kumkumadi taila. Apply it evenly as a face pack.
Leave it on face for 5 – 15 minutes, wash off with lukewarm water.
Do this once or twice a day.
Small licorice sticks of 2 – 3 cm length are chewed and the juice is swallowed slowly to relieve hoarseness of voice. Even singers use this for the purpose of improving singing voice.
Half a teaspoon of licorice is swallowed mixed with ghee or honey, for the same purpose.
Pittanilajit – Balances Vata and Pitta
Asrajit – detoxifies blood
Vranashothajit – useful in wound and inflammation
Vishahara – useful in poisoning
Chardihara – in small quantities, it relieves vomiting.
Trushnahara – relieves excessive thirst
Kshayahara – relieves emaciation and tiredness.
High blood pressure
A very high dose of 30 grams per day of licorice, for many weeks may cause increase in blood pressure. But usually, as per Ayurveda, its daily dose is not more than 3 grams per day.
Headache, shoulder, back pain
Paste prepared with licorice along with Tagara, dill seeds, Kushta, sandalwood and ghee is used to apply externally to relieve headache, shoulder and back pain. Reference: Charaka Samhita Rajayakshma Chikitsa.
Licorice powder – 1 – 3 grams once or twice a day.
Licorice decoction – 1 teaspoon of powder is added to 2 cups of water, boiled and reduced to half a cup. Filtered. This is advised in a dose of 15 – 30 ml, once or twice a day.
The dose of Yastimadhu capsule or tablet is 1 tablet / capsule once or twice a day, or as directed by Ayurvedic physician.
Because of its coolant properties, it has protective action on the stomach mucosa. It is not an irritant. Hence, it can be administered before food or even on empty stomach.
For Pitta imbalance disorders, it can be administered with cow milk.
It can be taken by people with diabetes.
Because of its coolant nature, it is not very useful in the treatment of Asthama.
Licorice with herbs, spices
Different ways to use licorice for digestive disorders
Yashtimadhu is a versatile Ayurvedic herb used extensively in digestive disorders.
Ayurveda explains that liquorice has heaviness, unctuousness, sweet taste and cold potency.
Usually herbs that have these properties balance down Pitta Dosha very well. Licorice is no exception.
Whenever you have taken a very spicy meal and feeling burning sensation in the stomach, when there is stomach mucosa erosion, when there are stomach and duodenal ulcers, when there is erosion of food pipe (esophagitis), in all these conditions, licorice is very helpful.
If you start feeling a burning sensation or if you cannot tolerate chilli, black pepper, ginger etc. spices, the licorice is very helpful. It relieves burning sensation, decreases hotness, and heals the wounds effectively.
For these purposes, licorice can be used in the form of an herbal ghee – called Yashtimadhu ghrita. Ghee is again Vata and Pitta balancing. So, it enhances the calming effect of licorice. Usual dose is 1 teaspoon of licorice ghee, once or twice a day, usually advised before food.
Yashtimadhu can also be taken in the form of licorice milk. For this purpose, 1 teaspoon of licorice is added with half a cup of milk and 2 cups of water. This is boiled in a low flame till half a cup of milk remains. It is filtered and consumed, usually before food. Milk is a natural coolant and hence it enhances the cooling effects of licorice on the stomach.
Apart from these, licorice is also available in the form of powder, tablets and capsules. The general dose of powder is 3 – 5 grams, once or twice a day, tablet or capsule is 2 per day.
When there is GERD – gastro esophageal reflux disorder, licorice alone might not be useful. In GERD, the food in the stomach moves upwards, causing heartburn.
You need something which makes the stomach and intestines move the food content in the downward direction. For this purpose, ideally licorice is made into a combination with Triphala. Triphala promotes downward movement of food in the stomach and the intestines.
Triphala with licorice is also useful when there is a burning sensation associated with mild constipation.
Read more about Triphala Churna
Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala manufactures Triphaladi Churna which is a combination of Triphala with licorice. Its dose is similar to the licorice powder dose mentioned above.
It is an uncanny combination. Trikatu is a combination powder of black pepper, long pepper fruit and ginger. Trikatu is hot, licorice is cold. Why would you mix them up?
Well, some people will have decreasing digestion strength + burning sensation / mucosa (inner lining of stomach) erosion / ulcers, together.
There, based on the need, based on the tolerance capacity, higher proportion of licorice with lower quantities of Trikatu, or vice versa is administered.
Read more about Trikatu
With bitter herbs
Bitter herbs such as pointed gourd (Patola), neem, Adhatoda vasica, even turmeric have excellent wound healing, ulcer healing actions. Bitter herbs, like licorice, balance Pitta Dosha. But bitter herbs can potentially improve the digestive fire.
So, in case of mucosa erosion with weak digestion strength, where the person cannot tolerate spices such as Trikatu, especially when the inner lining erosion / ulcer needs quicker healing, licorice is administered with bitter herbs.
Ayurvedic medicines with Glycyrrhiza glabra ingredient –
Yashtimadhu Phanta – a water infusion of licorice is used in Vamana Panchakarma procedure.
Ghee prepared with licorice – Yashtimadhu Ghrita is used extensively in treating peptic ulcers and gastritis.
Yashtimadhu oil – is used for nasya therapy (nasal instillation) and hair application to prevent baldness, greying and to reduce hair fall.
Because of its skin glow enhancing quality, it is an ingredient of the famous Kumkumadi Tailam
Licorice side effects
Licorice during pregnancy There are many reports suggesting that licorice taken during pregnancy may cause lower IQ in the child. It is also reported that licorice may cause preterm labour. Hence it is not advised to consume during pregnancy.
It is usually not prescribed in a patient with high BP and low potassium levels.
Liquorice in excessive dosage causes nausea and vomiting, increases Blood Pressure. It has variable degrees of intolerance and hence should not be used without medical advice or supervision.
But licorice is used extensively in Ayurvedic treatment during pregnancy. Majority of Ayurveda textbooks mention about licorice usage. if the dose is kept minimal, it is fine to use licorice during pregnancy, for a shorter period of time.
Should be taken with caution by
- Women on birth control pills
- Patients with Blood Pressure
- Pregnant women
- Nursing mothers
Interaction with medicines, supplements
Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.
this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets,
Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.
Anti obesity and anti-oxidant effect of Glycyrrhiza glabra:
As per the research conducted in Department of Natural Products, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, 12 flavonoids (1–12), isolated from Glycyrrhiza glabra roots were evaluated, in vitro for their pancreatic lipase (PL) inhibitory activity. Amongst all the compounds 7, 8, 10 and 11 showed strong inhibition against PL with IC50 values of 7.3 ?M, 35.5 ?M, 14.9 ?M and 37.6 ?M, respectively. Further, investigations were carried out to determine the anti obesity and lipid lowering effects of 7 and 10 in high fat diet fed male SD rats. The results indicate the potential of the chalcone scaffold as a source of PL inhibitors for preventing obesity.
After the child birth, the umbilical cord is cut. If there is suppuration in the umbilical area of the newborn, the area should be applied with an oil prepared with Lodhra (Symplocus racemosa), Yashtimadhu (Indian licorice), Devadaru (Cedrus deodara) and Haridra (turmeric). If the navel has already suppurated, the powder prepared from the same herbs mentioned above (in the preparation of oil) should be dusted.
Read related: Ayurvedic Care Of The Newborn Baby: Jatamatra Paricharya
Is it warm or is it a coolant?
It is a coolant.
Licorice with triphala
Under what circumstances Triphala can be administered with licorice?
Answer by Dr JV Hebbar
Triphala and licorice compliment each other very well. When they are used together, they fill the mutual void.
They are useful together,
a. To target common organs of both the herbs, more efficiently – eyes, hair, stomach, intestines, heart, cholesterol, anti aging rejuvenation.
b. To counter slightly hot net effect of triphala with coldness of yashtimadhu. c. Licorice is told as unctuous by Bhavaprakasha. Net effect of triphala is slightly drying, mainly due to astringent taste of Triphala.
d. Triphala is tridoshahara bor more targeted on kapha and Pitta. Licorice being sweet, brings in the vatahara effect to the equation.
e. Triphala with licorice is especially good for eyes. These two, along with Iron calx (Loha bhasma), honey and ghee are made into a medicine called Saptamrita lauha, which is used for the treatment of a variety of eye disorders.
Patanjali Divya Mulethi Churna – manufactured by Patanjali Ayurved Limited.
Comment by Corey:
Just wanted to quickly say thank you for spreading the knowledge and it’s good to see someone else understands the errors of modern research into herbs toxicity. I had recommended to someone online to take small dosage of calamus root everyday for about 2 weeks to help restore their consciousness after abusing weed. Everyone online was linking to a study saying it was cancerous, they were so alarmed. I was shocked to see they couldn’t read the study correctly, just like you had mentioned, the toxicity was tested at about 30 grams per day for 2 years straight… Where as the dosage is supposed to be around 2g for only a small period of time. It’s a shame because that herb is really powerful!
Remedy For Bleeding, Fever, Heart Care
Licorice is one of the most versatile Ayurvedic herbs. Its use is seen in gastritis, aphrodisiac therapy, fever and bleeding disorders. Let us learn an effective home remedy for bleeding disorders, fever and atherosclerosis.
Home remedy video
What you need?
1. Licorice powder (Yashtimadhu – Glycyrrhiza glabra) – 10 grams
2. Katuki powder (Picrorrhiza kurroa) – 10 grams
3. Luke warm water.
Method of preparation
How to make?
Mix equal quantities of Licorice powder and Katuki powder into a homogeneous powder.
This powder mix in a dose of 500 mg to 1 grams two times a day, after food is administered along with a cup of luke warm water.
1. It is useful in fever. Both Kutki and Licorice stimulate liver, calm Pitta and have anti inflammatory and antibacterial effect.
2. It is useful in bleeding disorders of Pitta origin, like nasal bleeding, heavy periods, etc.
3. Both Katuki and Licorice are known for anti-atherosclerotic activity. That means, they help to reduce the collection of cholesterol and clots in the inner side of blood pipes of heart. Hence it is a good home remedy for atherosclerosis.
How long to take?
It can be taken for 2 – 3 months time, based on doctor’s advice.
People who are sensitive to the said ingredients should avoid it.
It is best to avoid this home remedy in children, pregnant and lactating mothers.
It is best to take this home remedy under strict medical supervision.
Licorice Milk For Heartburn, Stomach Ulcers
Article by Dr Raghuram
Licorice milk is very easy to prepare remedy for gastritis. It is explained in Ayurveda As Yastimadhu Ksheerapaka. Kseerapaka is a formulation prepared using milk (ksheera). The herb is processed (paka) in the milk and the resultant preparation is called Kseerapaka.
Ingredients of licorice milk remedy:
- Yastimadu – Coarse powder of Liquorice – 3 grams
- Ksheera (Milk) – 25ml
- Jala (Water) – 100ml
Method of preparation
How to prepare?
In this context we shall discuss the quantity of Ksheerapaka to be prepared, enough for single dose consumption.
- Coarse powder of Glycyrrhiza glabra bark is taken in the quantity of 3 grams ( approximately half a teaspoon) in a vessel
- To this, milk is added in a quantity of 25 ml or approximately 8 times the quantity of Yashtimadhu churna (powder)
- Now water is added in a quantity of 100 ml i.e. approximately 32 times the quantity of Yashtimadhu powder (or 4 times the quantity of Milk). Before adding water to the vessel roughly note down the level of milk
- Now the vessel with the required ingredients is kept on a stove and processed in moderate heat.
- The contents are heated until only the milk remains. This means to tell that the process is carried on until all the water which has been added at the beginning of the preparation evaporates leaving behind the milk which we had taken i.e. 100ml of water evaporates during this processing and finally 25 ml of milk remains
- This procedure enables the medicinal qualities of Yashtimadhu to get imbibed into the milk. This also reduces the irritating and nauseating property of Yashtimadhu and enables easy consumption of the medicament
- Next the contents are filtered to separate the coarse powder of Yashtimadhu from the milk
- The resultant milk is consumed hot or warm
- This preparation is called Yashtimadhu Ksheerapaka
- 25ml in the morning (depends on the severity) – should be decided by the doctor.
- In children below 12 years of age, 5 – 10 ml, once or twice a day is the dose.
- In conditions of Gastritis and Stomach related ailments it is preferred to be consumed before food. This formulation can also be given after food. The decision should be taken by a qualified Ayurvedic physician after thoroughly examining the disease and the diseased.
How long to take?
It can be taken safely for a period of 2 – 8 weeks, based on doctor’s advice.
- Every time the preparation shall be made fresh.
- It should neither be preserved nor refrigerated nor reused after a long time following its preparation, because by then it would have lost its medicinal properties.
Benefits of Liquorice milk recipe:
- Useful remedy for Gastritis and other stomach ailments, Reduces stomach acid levels, Prevents ulcer formation
- Heals Gastric Erosions and Peptic Ulcers (Gastric and Duodenal ulcers)
Research studies have shown that the chemicals in Liquorice decreases swelling of the mucous membrane in inflammatory stomach conditions (and in lung congestions), thins down mucus secretions and increases chemicals in our body that heal ulcers. It is also useful in relieving H Pylori infection.
- Aids digestion, cures indigestion
- Good remedy for GERD / Reflex oesophagitis / Acid Reflex / Heartburn
- Relieves spasm of digestive tract and thus relieves colic / tummy pain
- Heals Liver damages, It enhances bile flow, aids digestion, decreases cholesterol levels
- It acts as a nutrient and helps in lowering stress
- Milk and Liquorice – both are good rejuvenators and geriatric medicines, the compound is even more wholesome
Use of Licorice after Chemotherapy in cancer patients
Mode of action
Probable mode of action in healing Gastric ailments – An Ayurvedic perspective:
Milk is said to be a Nitya-Rasayana (Rejuvenator which can be consumed on a daily basis) and Yashtimadhu is of course a good Rasayana.
Read more about cow milk benefits
Rasayana means that which is highly beneficial for all the tissues in the body, the mind and senses, provides good health and immunity apart from healing and curing the diseases. Thus Yashtimadhu Ksheerapaka provides a double dose of Rasayana.
Being a rejuvenator the combination also covers the healing process in the entire body (and mind) but since we are discussing the role of Ksheerapaka in Gastric ailments and digestive disorders we will just have a look at the probable mode of action of Yashtimadhu Ksheerapaka in the mentioned conditions.
Yashtimadhu – Glycyrrhiza glabra is a known Rasayana herb of Ayurveda, used since the time of Charaka and Sushruta.
Milk has taken the properties and qualities of Yashtimadhu after the processing and it will be Yashtimadhu which will be predominantly acting in these conditions. Milk is a media and a conveyor of medicinal properties of Yashtimadhu to the cells. Also the processing with milk nullifies the irritant and nauseating nature of Yashtimadhu.
The stomach and its functions are predominantly monitored by Pachaka Pitta, Kledaka Kapha and Samana Vayu. Though they will get help from other sub-types of Doshas it would be irrelevant to discuss that in this context. When the mentioned sub-types of Doshas are in equilibrium the activities pertaining to digestion take place in an undisturbed way.
The imbalance between these sub-types of Doshas, especially the hyperactivity of Pachaka Pitta supported by disturbed Samana Vayu will lead to production of excessive Pitta (acids?) which in due course of time will damage the Shleshmadhara Kala (Gastric mucosa) of the stomach causing inflammation in its layers. The local Kapha which acts as a buffer or protective layer in the stomach is thus imbalanced. This inflammation in due course of time will lead to conditions like Ajeerna (indigestion), Amlapitta (Gastritis, GERD etc) etc.
In the later stages this excess Pitta will further damage and burn the Shleshmadhara Kala and Mamsadhara Kala (Gastric musculature) leading to Gastric erosions and ulcers (Annadrava Shoola and Parinama Shoola). This condition is a painful one. The pain is associated with nausea, hyperacidity, sour belching, heartburn, vomiting and many other symptoms.
Yashtimadhu Ksheerapaka by the virtue of its properties like Madhura Rasa and Vipaka, Sheeta Guna, Snigdha Guru Gunas will buffer the excess Pitta and balance it. This happens due to the antagonistic action of Yashtimadhu Ksheerapaka on Pitta and Vata – which are the prime culprits in the causation of Gastric ailments.
The medicine also helps in healing the erosions and ulcers, prevents excess acid formation and being a mild laxative owing to its Snigdha and Guru Gunas will flush the excess Pitta out of the stomach and intestines. It also corrects the metabolism and aids in proper digestion and absorption of food. This further energies the cells and restores strength and immunity of the body. The medicine also allows the recovery of gastric mucosa and musculature in quick time.
Does Licorice decrease immunity?
There are no known side effects with this remedy.
However, people with high blood pressure should seek medical advice before taking it.
It is best to avoid this during pregnancy.