Licorice, a root that is 50 times sweeter than sugar, has wonderful health benefits. Since ancient days, licorice has been used for treating various aliments, including liver and stomach disorders, cough and sore throat.
The health benefits of licorice are countless and this root has been used for thousands of years to treat many diseases. The word licorice is derived from a Greek word meaning “sweet root,” which describes its appropriate nature that it is said to be 50 times sweeter than sugar.
There are evidences that the traditional Chinese medicine has been using licorice for over 5,000 years. Ancient medicinal systems, including Indian Ayurveda, were using licorice for a variety of aliments, such as coughs, sore throats, poisonous bites, food poisoning, arthritic pains, and liver and stomach disorders. This herb has been long valued as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic and aphrodisiac agent.
Ayurvedic uses of licorice
Ayurveda uses licorice for various purposes. Although licorice was introduced into India by the Greeks and the Arabs, it is referred in Ayurvedic texts as “Yashtimadhu” having the same Greek meaning “sweet root”and is used in various ways.
1) Ayurveda considers licorice as an important tonic herb because of its property to balance the three humors(doshas) Vata, Kapha and Pitta. The ancient system says that if it is used in large dosage for a long time, it may increase the Kapha humor. It says that it has powerful effect on all of the tissue levels and it is beneficial to all the seven dhatus of the body which remain inside the human body, maintaining the proper equilibrium so that the body can function properly.
2) Ayurveda says that licorice gives a cooling effect to eyes, improves quality and quantity of sperms in semen, enhances the luster of hairs and make them look blacker than before, improves voice, increases one’s body strength and improves complexion.
3) Ayurveda considers it a successful aphrodisiac since it increases sexual desire and is used to treat erectile disorders and premature ejaculation commonly found in men.
4) It has been used to treat mouth ulcers, bad odors, coating and rawness of tongue causes by inflammation. Ayurveda considers it as an anesthetic to treat tooth problems. It is a potent pain killer and anti-bacterial. This has been confirmed by modern scientific studies.
Recent researches by Stefan Gafner and colleagues in USA have revealed that two of the compounds in licorice, called licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, are the most effective antibacterial substances in curing toothache. These substances can kill bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.
5) Licorice is used in Ayurveda in various ways, both as a medicine and as a flavoring herb, to suppress unpleasant odors and tastes since it has a pleasant smell and a sweet taste. Powdered licorice is added to many Ayurvedic herbal formulas to harmonize the qualities of herbs and improve the taste. It heals soar throat and improves voice.
There are so many sweet benefits for health by using this sweetest root. Studies are still going on to find out the properties of this wonderful root.