Botanical Name : Glycyrrhiza glabra
Species: G. glabra
Vernacular names: Sans Yasti madhu, Hind: Jethi madhu, Eng : Licorice
Therapeutic Catagory: Anti-inflammatory, Anti-ulcer
Ayurvedic Names: Yashtimadhu, Madhuka
Botanical Name: Glycyrrhiza Glabra
Unani Name: Rub-ul-sus
Indian Names: Yashtimadhu, Jethimadhu, Mulethi,Calamus, Sweet Liquorice, Sweet Wood
Habitat: This plant can be cultivated in plains of India but the drug is mainly imported from
Afghanistan and Iran.
Yashtimadhu or Licorice is one of the greatest herbs known to mankind. Egyptian hieroglyphics record the use of Licorice in a popular beverage. Alexander the Great, the Scything armies, Roman Emperor Caesar, and even India’s great prophet, Brahma, are on record endorsing the beneficial properties contained in Licorice. Warriors used it for its ability to quench thirst while on the march, while others recognized Licorice’s valuable healing properties. A very important quality of licorice continues to be its use as a flavoring agent. Glycyrrhiza is Greek meaning ‘sweet root’.
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Liquorice/ Licorice, a perennial herb of the genus Glycyrrhiza, in the family Leguminosae is a tall shrub (4 to 5 feet). This tender, twining plant, woody at the base is native of Asia and Mediterranean region and grows in subtropical climates. Glycyrrhiza glabra is its scientific name
A perennial shrub up to 1m high, violet flowers in racemes, dried roots are the source of liquorice. It is a herb or a small shrub up to 1m high with pinnate leaves having 9-17 leaflets. The leaflets ovate and obtuse. flowers pale blue, arranged in a raceme. Caylx glandular, pubescent. The pods glabrous, red to brown having 3-4 seeds. The root light brown, sweet in taste.
Principle constituent of liquorice is the sweet tasting Triterpenoid saponin glyccrrhizin
(2-9%), a mixture of potassium and calcium salts of glycyrrhizinic acid. Include other
triterpenoid saponins like glabranin A&B, glycyrrhetol, glabrolide, isoglabrolide, isoflavones, coumarins, triterpene sterols.
The medicinally active sweet juice contained in its root, abounds with a constituent, much used in demulcent compositions. The inspissated juice is used as a confection and for medicinal purposes. Acrid resins, however, render the root irritant and poisonous. The word licorice derives from Greek glykeia rhiza “sweet root” – glykys the modern Greek name means sweet and rhiza means root. This herb known in Malayalam as At(t)i madhuram, Iratti madhuram, can be purchased from angadikkada, the shop in the street Ati madhuram/ Iratti madhuram which means excessively sweet (or extremely charming/ beautiful) is a sugar ally.
Eratti/ iratti means doubling. But Eratti/ iratti madhuram, doesn’t mean doubling of the sweetness. Iratti is transformed into eratti. The characteristic sweet taste of liquorice is also reflected in the Indian names. In Sanskrit, madhu means sweet, pleasant. This element is found in names for licorice not only in Sanskrit (madhuka and yashtimadhu from yashti “stem, stalk”, but also in modern names of both South and North India, e.g., jestamadha (Marathi), yashthimodhu (Bengali), yashti madhukam, madhu yashti(ka), madhukam, yashti madhuram, yashti, yashtee madhu, madhusrava, yashteekam, kleethakam (Sanskrit), jathi-madh, jethi-madh, mulathi (Hindi), ati-madhura, yashti-madhuka (Kannada), ati-maduram (Tamil), ati-madhuramu, yashti-madhukam (Telugu).
The drug posses potent demulcent, expectorant and anti-inflamattory properties, attributed to the presence of glycyrrhizin, which is about 50 times sweeter than sucrose. Besides these, glyrrhizin is also credited with anti-hepatotoxic, anti-viral and anti-bacterial activites. The drug is also beneficial to peptic ulcer.
In India, the crude as well as its dried aqueous extract is mainly used in bronchial
troubles along with Viola pilosa, Adiantum lunulatum and Justicia adhatoda in the form of
decoction or in lozenges, but in Allopathy, its additional use along with anise oil is as
mild laxative and for masking the bad taste of some herbal preparations of senna aloe,
In Ayurveda, Glycyrrhiza glabra is used in “Yastyadi Churna”, “Yastyadi Kwath” and “Yastimadhavadi Taila”. In Unani system, it is an ingredient of “Banadiq-ul-bazur” used as a diuretic in urinary troubles, of lozenges “Hab Awaz Kusha” and “Hab Maqhas Badam” of “Dawa-i-sandal” a cooling agent for such diseases as syphilis, of “Sufuflodh” for threatened abortion, of “Sharbat Aijaz” a cough syrup and of “Laooq Bihdana” and “Laooq Badama” used as cough linctus.
It is madhura, slightly tikta, sheetala, used in opthalmia, deranged pitta, anorexia, emaciation, allays thirst and cures ulcer.
Root (powder) : prescribed in coughs, hoarseness and in respiratory troubles; mixed with citrus juice efficacious in catarrhal affections and with honey in jaundice; in combination with ginger and milk, acts as a good tonic during convalescence; infusion,
Decoction or extract is laxative and an useful medicine in urinary diseases, bronchial and gastric troubles. alterative, galactagogue; good for the eyes, in incipient loss of sight, in diseases of the eyelid; removes biliousness, ear diseases due to biliousness; improves taste; lessens thirst, hiccough, vomiting, fatigue; heals ulcers, wounds; improves the voice; cures” vata “, inflammation, consumption, purifies the blood; useful in leprosy, anremia; hemicrania, haemoptysis, abdominal pains, epilepsy
The root is hot, dry, sweet; diuretic, emmenagogue, demulcent; relieves thirst, cough, vomiting, asthma, bronchitis, abdominal colic, headache; good in eye troubles; cures unhealthy humours, ulcers.-
The branches are bitter.-
The leaves are used for scalds of the head, and in foul perspiration of the armpits
The root is demulcent, pectoral, and emollient.used for coughs, consumption, and chest complaints..
The root is. said to be good for sore throats
Licorice root contains triterpenoid saponins (4-24%), mostly glycrrhizin, a mixture of potassium and calcium salts of glycyrrhizic acid; falvonoids (1%), mainly liquiritin and liquiritigenin, chalcones isoliquiritin, isoliquiritigenin, and isoflavonoids (formononetin) ; amines (1-2%) asparagine, betaine, and choline; amino acids; 3-15% glucose and sucrose; starch (2-30%); polysaccharides (arabinogalactans); sterols (beta-sitosterol); coumarins (glycerin); resin; and volatile oils (0.047%). Also Vitamins E, B-complex, phosphorous, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, lecithin, manganese, iodine, chromium, and zinc have been found.
Liquorice is used both in the Western and Oriental medicines. In western medicine, liquorice has been used since the ancient Grecian age as an expectorant and antitussive agent and as ad additive for sweetening. In old Chinese Materia Medica “Shin Nung Pen T Sao Chung”, liquorice was described as a drug for strengthening muscle and bone, and curing wounds.
Since liquorice extracts were effective clinically for treatment of gastric ulcer, but
caused oedema and hypertension in nearly 20% patients treated. The physiological and
pharmacolgical studies on glycyrrhizin, the main saponin of liquorice have advanced
remarkably. The side effect of liquorice extracts was regarded as a mineral corticoid like
action of glycyrrhizin. It has been reported that glycyrrhizin caused retention of Na+and Cl and excretion of K+.
Glycyrrhizetic acid has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory activity, in 1/8th potency of hydrocortisone by the cotton-pellet method. The activity is potentiated to 1/5th of hydrocortisone when carbenoxolone (Sodium salt of hemisuccinate of glycyrrhetic acid) is used. Glycyrrhizin ointment is employed clinically for aphtha and other inflammatory skin diseases.
In these cases, glycyrrhizin or its sapogenin glycyrrhetic acid potentiates the
action of glucocorticoid. Glycyrrhizin has been shown to inhibit ulcers in rats and cures
experimental gastric ulcers caused by acetic acid administration. To avoid side effects in
glycyrrhizin in liquorice preparation, such as oedema and hypertension, a glycyrrhizin free
fraction was studied. Later it has been whon that the fraction named FM 100 was found
effective for gastric ulcers and it contains several iso-flavones and chalcones. De-glycyrrhized liquorice extract is now an important substance for treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers.
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Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.