Licorice

by Regan Schwartz

A pile of dried licorice root sits on a wooden table next to a glass tea cup.

Glycyrrhiza glabra

Energetics: warm, moist, relaxant

Actions: demulcent, emollient, expectorant, antitussive, adaptogen, cortisol fixative, stomachic, digestive, harmonizer

When a dry, hacking cough strikes, licorice can be a truly excellent friend.  Its warm moistening properties help to restore healthy mucosa and its antitussive properties help to calm a spastic cough.  Licorice brings those emollient and demulcent properties to the gut as well, where it can be an effective ally in rebalancing an inflamed and irritated GI tract.  Because I work with the whole root and not a de-glycyrrhizinated extract, I am very careful about the amount of licorice I’m ingesting because glycyrrhizin can increase blood pressure.

While I work with licorice in cold and flu tea blends and as part of a gut healing tea, I must admit, I most often work with licorice….you guessed it!…..topically! As we’ve established, licorice has a amazing emollient and demulcent properties, which can support dry, irritated skin.  Additionally, licorice has a cortisol-fixing ability, allowing your skin to build up cortisol as needed to recover from irritations like rashes, bug bites, and inflammatory skin conditions.  

Additionally, licorice contains glabridin, a flavonoid with significant skin brightening ability that is proving to be gentler and more effective than traditional cosmeceuticals, though scientific research on herbs often lags significantly behind our shared traditional knowledge.  You can currently find licorice in my scar salve and brightening serum.  

Magically, licorice has a long history in a variety of magical and spiritual practices.  Often associated with love and protection, licorice also has a history of use in working with the dead and binding/compelling work.