Licorice is a perennial legume plant that can grow to 7 feet tall. It has pinnate leaves and pale blue to purple flowers up to 1/2 inch long. The fruit is an oblong pod containing several seeds. Fifty times sweeter than sugar, licorice root is used to treat a number of conditions. Though similar in flavor, it is not related to anise or fennel.
A relative, Glycyrrhiza lepidota, lives from Central Canada down through Texas and Virginia. It is used in the same manner.
WHERE IT CAN BE FOUND:
Asia, Northern Africa, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, Middle East, California, Nevada, Utah
PROPERTIES AND USE:
Antispasmodic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, hypertensive, emollient, expectorant, detoxifier, and treats prostate cancer, stomachache, sore throat, bronchitis, cough, respiratory infections, osteoarthritis, lupus, liver conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, poor adrenal function, polycystic ovary syndrome, eczema, colic, heartburn, peptic ulcers, food poisoning, painful menstruation, mouth sores
For all conditions, boil 2 teaspoons dried licorice root in 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain before drinking. Except for those with high blood pressure, drink up to three cups per day. This decoction can be used as a mouthwash to treat mouth sores, and as a wash for eczema or dry skin.