Licorice (Gan Cao)

Botanical Name: Western: Glycyrrhiza glabra (Pacific West (California): Glycyrrhiza lepidota). Eastern: Glycyrrhiza uranlaensis. 

Licorice is a wonderful tonic herb used in many remedies for its flavor enhancing qualities and antimicrobial effects. It also helps to strengthen and to support the lungs.

Below is an overview of licorice, combining and interpreting the best of Western science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), shamanism, folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of licorice.

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Western Name: Licorice

Also Known As: Liquorice

Organs/Systems: Lungs, Balance Blood, Support Immunity and Builds Strength

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Antiviral, Antimicrobial, Anti-inflammatory, Laxative, Anti-diabetic, Anti-tumor, Anti-ulcer, Immune Enhancer, Demulcent, sore throats, menstrual cramps, weak post illness, helps lower high levels of fat in blood stream. Mouthwash, promote menses, relieve pain improve appetite, calming and protects liver.

Eastern (TCM)

Pin Yin: Gan Cao

Also Known As: Grandfather of Herbs, Great Adjunct and Great Detoxifier

Meridians: All 12 meridians (one of the few herbs that has this attribute); especially Spleen, Stomach, Lung, Kidney and Heart

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Major Tonify Qi herb. Tonify Spleen and Augment Qi: shortness of breath, weak pulse and/or palpations. Clear Heat and Relieve Fire Toxicity: sore throat, carbuncles, and sores. Moisten the Lungs and stop cough for either hot or cold syndromes. Antidote to toxic substances both internally and externally. Very good at balancing blood sugar levels. As Licorice enters all twelve meridians, it is often used as a guide herb to assist the flow of qi throughout the body.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

A legume. (NOT related to anise, star anise, or fennel). Herbaceous perennial. Flowers are long; purple to pale whitish blue. Roots are stoloniferous. Native to southern Europe, India and parts of Asia. Harvested in Autumn two to three years after planting. Grown in China, inner Mongolia, Gansu, Xinjiang, and northeastern China.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Roots and Rhizomes

Flavors: Sweet, Neutral, Slightly Bitter (Pacific species can be very bitter)

Caution: Very low toxicity, considered very safe.

History/Folklore: Very popular in Europe as a candy, with salt added to it in Scandinavia. In Italy, people enjoy it in its natural form, while in Spain and Syria, it is a popular drink. The name licorice is derived from old French and Greek words that translate to “sweet root.” Traditionally used as a medicine in Ayurveda for rejuvenation. In Sanskrit, it is called “Yastimadhu.” It is the most widely used herb in TCM and is second only to Ginseng in importance.

Key Constituents:

Glycyrrhizin, uralenic acid, liquirtigenin, isoliquirtigenin, liquiritin, calcium magnesium, flavonoids, steroid hormones, starch, saccharose, glucose, coumarins, choline, progesterone-related substances.

Did you know?

50x Sweeter Than Sugar

Glycyrrhizin is know to be 50 times sweeter than sugar with powerful cortisone-like effects that are almost identical to adrenal steroids.



Chinese studies reveal licorice can help eliminate or neutralize 1,200 known toxins.

Fun fact!

Tobacco Additive

Most tobaccos use licorice as an additive flavor and a moistening agent.


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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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