Yastimadhu: Licorice Benefits, Usage, Research, Remedies, Side Effects

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.  

licorice root sticks

Botanical name – Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn.
Family – Fabaceae

Habitat: This herb is cultivated in Himalayas.

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

Sanskrit Synonyms:
Yashtimadhu – has sweet root and stem
Madhuka – sweet
Klitaka – Being imported into
Yashtyahva, Madhuyashti

Medicinal qualities

Glycyrrhiza glabra medicinal qualities:
Rasa (Taste) – Madhura (Sweet)
Guna (Properties) – Guru (Heavy), Snigdha (Unctuous)
Vipaka (Post digestion effect): Madhura (Sweet)
Veerya (Potency)
– Sheeta (Cold)

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.

Licorice benefits as per Ayurveda

Licorice benefits:

  • 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
  • Anti-emetic
  • 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
  • Anti-pyretic
  • Relieves dysuria
  • Promotes longevity of life
  • Promotes fracture healing

Cough remedy

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.
Shloka reference:

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 |

Anti-aging therapy

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

Face pack

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.

Voice improvement

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 note more than 3 grams per day.

Headache, shoulder, back pain

External application
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.

Ayurvedic medicines

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.

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.

Can 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.

With western medicines
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.

Research

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.

Newborn care

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.

Manufacturer:
Patanjali Divya Mulethi Churna – manufactured by Patanjali Ayurved Limited.

122 thoughts on “Yastimadhu: Licorice Benefits, Usage, Research, Remedies, Side Effects”

    • It needs doctors advice. It might not be safe to take during pregnancy and in high BP patients.

      Reply
  1. Is Licorice helpful in some form in dry cough (with fever)? It was acquired due to some sort of reaction to raw green mango (with cilantro) chutney.

    Thank you,

    Reply
  2. There are many licorice tablets in the market. General dose for just health maintenance is 500 mg per day, for 4 – 12 weeks.
    If the dose of a herb is mentioned as 3 g/ day, it is the dose of the powder.
    For health maintenance, usually 1 teaspoon of herb is added with two cups of water, boiled and reduced to one cup. Filtered. It is taken in a dose of half a cup two times a day.

    Reply
  3. I have heard of an ayurvedic hair pack that promotes hair growth.i.e mixing equal amount of bhringaraj and yashtimadhu powder with some water into a fine paste and applying to the hair n scalp.Leave to dry and rinse. Does this really work? If so, how many times should this be done per week? Kindly reply.

    Reply
    • Hi, this should work. It should be applied at lease once or twice per week.
      While applying this, do not wait till it is totally dry. Wash off when it is still moist.
      You can also add Amla powder to the above combination (in equal quantities).

      Reply
  4. It can be administered to children in low dose. But for your daughter’s cough problem, better to consult an Ayurveda doctor in person.

    Reply
  5. Dear Runjith,
    You will have to observe very carefully while evaluating such articles. Either the researcher would have done the side effect study on a concentrate / particular chemical ingredient (not on the whole herb), or researcher might have taken the case of very high dose.
    Consider this report in a medline plus article.

    In the section “are there any safety concern?
    They write –
    Consuming 30 grams or more of licorice daily for several weeks can cause severe side effects including high blood pressure, low potassium in the blood, weakness, paralysis, and occasionally brain damage in otherwise healthy people.

    If you ask me, no sane doctor would advice 30 grams of licorice continuously for a few days, let alone several weeks

    Reply
  6. Recently i read out one article, it mentioned collect Licorice root, Dandelion root and Burdock Root and grind these 3 roots until became fine paste. Apply these paste on scalp and wash it off. Does it really work? I’m facing severe hair fall problem. Please reply me.

    Reply
  7. I heard that Ash guard juice with 2 teaspoon Liquorice powder (but I am going to try only 3 grams) is a home remedy for Epilepsy. Is this true ? . Can you please suggest home remedies for epilepsy ( I am sorry for diverting the topic) .

    Reply
  8. As licorice when applied topically improves skin tone ,can intake also have the same benefits…
    Actually I’m vata type so wants to know which herb is good to improve complexion when taken internally .

    Reply
    • Oral intake of licorice also has skin tone improvement effect.
      Other substances to improve skin tone are – sesame seeds, Bhringaraj, Vitamin E containing substances etc.

      Reply
  9. You can chew a very small piece of Yastimadhu, or take half a teaspoon of yastimadhu powder, once in the morning, and swallow honey with it. – for a period of one month only.

    Reply
  10. i read some where that Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) helps in reduction of abdominal fat. ie it helps in decreasing waist line. Please let me know if its true and what concentration should be taken and can you suggest a combination of Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) with guggulu.

    Reply
  11. Sir, a reputed digestive tonic is containing 0.5 grams of yashtimadhu per 100 ml of serving , as you are suggesting that yashtimadhu cant be taken per prolonged period of time. For how many days this tonic can be taken safely.

    Reply
    • Hi, 0.5 grams of Yashtimadhu (most probably extract) per 100 ml amounts to ~5 grams of Yashtimadhu. It means, a 10 ml of dose/day would be containing around 500 mg of it. So, it is good to continue for up to 2 – 3 months, for an adult.

      Reply
  12. Great site. I do come often to learn more about Ayurveda. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us. What would be the best substitute for Licorice? It works very well but I have noticed that it increases BP even with a minimum dose of 500 mg/day. I need something which will help with both Vata and Pitta, helping to improve digestion, hyperacidity. Any suggestion?

    Reply
  13. Hi, is this Drug helpful for reducing involuntary nocturnal loss of semina or can you recommend some other Drug for that purpose.

    Reply
  14. Hi Dr.

    you mentioned that this herb should not be used during pregnancy but this herb is used in phal ghrit/phal kalyan ghrit and brihat phal ghrit.

    If I am not wrong then all those ghrit can be used during pregnancy.

    isn’t it contradictory ?

    Thanks

    Reply
  15. sir i m facing severe hair problem i heard using green tea to scalp reduces hair fall is it true??if not please give me suggestion to reduce hair fall

    Reply
    • Dear Madam,
      These might be some of the causes of the hair fall:
      > Stress
      > Weakness
      > Vitamin B6 and folic acid deficiency
      > Hereditary factors.

      In the diet do include lots of fruits and veggies. And drink atleast 2 litres of water everyday.

      The home remedies which you can use are:

      > Take Bhringaraj powder + Amalaki powder + Dried methi powder add 4 tsp of this mixture into warm water and apply the paste onto your scalp for 20 minutes and then wash off. Doing this for a regular basis can increase hair growth.

      > Include Radish in your diet. A bowl of radish with black pepper powder and rock salt in your diet twice a day.

      Reply
    • It can be made into a milk remedy and taken. Read about how to make it here – easyayurveda.com/2015/10/16/licorice-milk-recipe-for-gastritis-stomach-ulcers-heartburn/

      Reply
  16. Sir mujhe chickenpox hua ta one month phle usk marks rah gye h to inse kaise chutkara pau????or kitna time legega tik hone me ??

    Reply
    • Dear madam,

      These are the remedies you can use:

      > Apply aloe vera gel to the scars. You can obtain the gel from aloe vera plants by snipping off the tips of the leaves and squeezing out the gel.
      > Rub honey on the scars
      > Dab coconut water on the water.

      Reply
  17. Please consult an Ayurveda doctor directly. Licorice – 500 mg, once or twice a day, for 1 month might be useful.

    Reply
  18. Please suggest whether this licorice powder is beneficial in patients with cancer after chemo for reducing the toxicity of medicines

    Reply
  19. Hi, Licorice stem itself can be added while making oil. THe preparation can be made similar to amla hair oil shown here – easyayurveda.com/2012/04/18/how-to-make-hair-oil-at-home-with-amla/

    Reply
  20. One of the problems with modern research is they compare the entire herb to just one or two of its chemical compounds. The way licorice works is different than glycyrrhizin. In Ayurveda, whole herb with its chemical compounds in entirety is used.

    Reply
  21. Hi, such a person can chew just 1 inch of licorice per day and suck its juice slowly for 2 – 3 minutes time. It may take a year time to improve.

    Reply
    • For skin health, usually its oil – such as yasthimadhu taila is applied externally for improving skin complexion.

      Reply
  22. Does Excessive consumption of Jeshthamadh (5gms per day) on regular basis lead to reduction of Haemohlobin in d blood?

    Reply
  23. I heared that Licorice & milk boiled together is a remedy for hair fall & improves hair density. Is it true? Please help.

    Reply
  24. My kids (4 yrs nd 1.2 yr)are having cough and throat congestion. Is it good to give them this yastimadhu powder along with palm sugar powder and honey. Please advise.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  25. Dear Dr J V Hebbar MD (AYU) can you find for a herbal ountment which will Destroys the hair root of the white hair on the face or will this three per crent drug cidofovir gel will do l want something really permanent really do as l am really feb up with all this waxing on the face every day now really feb up with it all l badly need your help l really do thankyou.

    Reply
  26. Hello there,
    My daughter has lots of lice, due to which every time we need bald her hair. She is growing and not feeling balding her head. Do you have help with the above herbs?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  27. No need.
    Just be strict with diet, exercise regularly. Take care to avoid putting on weight. Have a healthy lifestyle. Avoid junk, do Yoga and Pranayama.
    These are sufficient.

    Reply
  28. Hi Doctor,

    What is Indian (Hindi) name of Burdock Root?
    From where we can get Burdock Root?

    Thanks & Regards
    Manu

    Reply
  29. Hi doctor how can we use licorice powder or any other method or remedy you suggest externally for better brighter and equal complexion and getting rid of acne scars ?

    Reply
  30. Thank u for your reply. I also wanted to know if I can use Vetiver and Manjishtha topically during pregnancy

    Reply
  31. Sir i want to increase my weight and also strenghten my immune system… please advice me which ayurvedic medicine i take

    Reply
  32. Hi Doctor M listen about licorice tht the best tonic for health mantinece & its used with worm milk twice a day . Its how % fact.

    Reply
  33. 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!

    Reply
    • Very true. It is up to us, the herbalists to spread the right knowledge and clear the doubts of the patients. 🙂

      Reply
  34. Thank you doctor..what can be done for body excess hair.because of hormonal imbalance problem non of the home remedies are helpful in removing/reducing excess body hair n hair fall thinning????

    Reply
      • Hello Doctor, can you please list the names of the oils used as a remedy for
        Dandruff
        Hairfall and greying hair
        And how to use them. Thank you

        Reply
  35. Thanks.. i don’t have access to fresh bringaraj leaves. I only have dried bringaraj powder and dried yashtimadhu powder,so do I soak them in water overnight or for few hours before applying to head as a mask for hair growth? Please suggest

    Reply
    • SIr my brother pinched me on my cheeks when I was small..those scratches reflects my face ugly…please tell me a remedy to erase them…

      Reply
  36. sir am having gastritis along with gallbladder pain.( no gallstones) for 2 yrs.not able to digest anything …sweet or even less oily not tolerated. licorice helps for burning sensation but i feel pain in gallbladder taking yashtimadhu.pls suggest what alternate. pr licorice ok for longer iam taking for more than 1yrs..

    Reply
  37. It can be taken quarter a taespoon at night, after food with a cup of milk or water for 2 months time.

    Reply
  38. Is Kumkumadi thailam same as Kumkuma pushadi thailam – Mix 1/2 cup extra virgin oil,1/2 almond oil, a pinch of saffron in a bowl.Heat the oil using a double boiling method.i.e bring some water to a boil,place this bowl in the hot boiling water.The oil gets heated and the colour changes to golden.Remove and store in a glass jar.

    Reply
  39. Sir
    Got 2bottles of Yastimadhu powder but its written on the bottle good for throat infection.
    I bought it for application for skin, is this the one for applying on skin or some other specific bottle is there for application on skin.
    Kindly let me know if this is good for skin for teenagers and how to apply.
    Hope you would reply soon. Any side effects for young skin later

    Reply
  40. I have too much heat in the body. Pustules on the back and shoulders and I feel hungry every 2 hours. I keep drinking milk with licorice powder. Please suggest a remedy and medicines. As I take swarna Sootashekhar ras & kaamdudha ras. I have severe vertigo aswell.

    Reply
  41. Sir can we use aswagandha and tribulus along with other english medicine?? Will there be any problem ?

    Reply
  42. Yastinadhu is safe during pregnancy and advised by charak in garbha shuske Vatvyadhi chikitsa 28/95. Dr. Mahendra rupapara BAMS Ojas Ayurveda hospital surat Gujarat. Mo. 9426144022. (I use yastinadhu, gambharitwak, mishri-Decoction for missed abortion in my practice without fail.

    Reply

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