Glycoyrrhiza uralensis, or Asian Licorice, is a legume native to central Asia, China, and Japan. The root has been used in traditional medicine throughout Asia and the Middle East for thousands of years. In China, licorice is second in popularity only to ginseng and written record of it's use goes back as far as 3,000 years. It was used to treat wounds, strengthen bones, and promote muscle growth.
Licorice root has historically been used for a wide range of ailments from respiratory distress to digestive irritation and is still popular today in herbal remedies for boosting the immune system, improving mental functions, and countering stress, among numerous uses. Botanical researchers have analyzed licorice and identified many active compounds.
A key compound, glycyrrhizin, is responsible for licorice's distinctive sweetness. The genus name "Glycyrrhiza" means "sweet root" in Greek, but most licorice candy today is flavored with anise instead.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Glycyrrhiza uralensis
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Glycyrrhiza uralensis
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
|This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (July 2012)|
Liquorice root, or 'radix glycyrrhizae', is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has the name gancao (kan-tsao; Chinese: 甘草). It is usually collected in spring and autumn, when it is removed from the rootlet and dried in the sun. Liquorice root is most commonly produced in the Shanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang regions of China.
As well as traditional Chinese medicine, liquorice root is used in Greco-Arab and Unani medicines, as well as in the traditional medicines of Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, India and other Asian nations. Its Arabic name is 'Asal-as-Soos' and in Pakistan / India it is referred as 'Mulethi'. The Greco-Arab (Unani) Medicine recommend its oral use after removal of external layer to avoid side effects. People with heart conditions or high blood pressure should avoid ingesting extensive amounts of liquorice, as it can further heighten blood pressure and lead to stroke.[medical citation needed]
A Chinese legend tells how liquorice root first came to be used in traditional Chinese medicine:
A long time ago, there was an old doctor with excellent medicine skills. He opened his medical office in his home with a few students as assistants. One time, he had to leave home for a couple of days, and before the old doctor left, he gave his students several drug packages in order for them to help out with the home patients. The old doctor did not return home on time, and the medicine he left for his students were running out, and there were still many patients to cure. In the backyard, however, there were some chopped and dried grasses used for boiling the water left, so the students administered them to the patients and told them that it was their teacher’s medicine. Magically, the patients who were suffering from spleen and stomach problems, coughing phlegm, or with sore throats and ulcers were cured from this medicine. These dried grasses were liquorice roots. Since then, liquorice roots have been widely used in Chinese medicine and healing.
Liquorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which can cause high blood pressure, salt and water retention, and low potassium levels; it could also lead to heart problems. Patients who take liquorice with diuretics or medicines that reduce the body’s potassium levels could induce even lower potassium levels. Taking large amounts of liquorice root could also affect cortisol levels as well. People with heart disease or high blood pressure should be cautious about taking liquorice root. Pregnant women also need to avoid liquorice root because it could increase the risk of preterm labor.
- "Glycyrrhiza uralensis - Plants For A Future database report". Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "Catalogue of Life : 2010 Annual Checklist : Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.". Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- "Glycyrrhiza uralensis information from NPGS/GRIN". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- “Gan Cao.” Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. http://www.aompress.com/book_herbology/pdfs/GanCao.pdf. 25 April 2010.
- "liquorice Root". National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/liquoriceroot/. 25 April 2010.[dead link]
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