We have all heard of licorice, but what it is used FOR, is a bit of a mystery. Licorice is used in nearly every Chinese herbal formula (and there are thousands) because it is known to “harmonize the formula”.
Well, what the heck does that mean? Because licorice root can ameliorate the blood (make it better by kick starting your blood and energy), it facilitates the gastrointestinal tract’s absorption process of the herbs in the formula. Researchers have been studying this process for years, and although scientists do not completely understand the “how” of why licorice does what it does, it is known that it does work.
Licorice root “harmonizes” herbal formulas by helping your GI tract. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root has been used to treat stomach ulcers, it has antioxidant qualities (the root contains flavonoids), contains amino acids that help build healthy cells and muscles, and treats upper respiratory infections, viral infections and a sore throat. Amazingly, it is classified as an adaptogen, and helps the body deal with stress! What a versatile chinese herb!
It is important to know that it’s better to use the whole herb rather than chemicals isolated from the herb because all the components of the herb together produce the desired effect. Once again, we get back to “harmony”.
By Cathy Margolin, Dipl Oriental Medicine, L.Ac., Founder of Pacific Herbs.