Licorice is a perennial plant in the bean family found in certain parts of Europe and Asia. The plant grows on a spreading root system that consists of fibrous, wood-like parts that branch out horizontally under the ground. The root, sometimes referred to as sweet root, yields a sweetness many times more potent than that of ordinary sugar. This characteristic is why licorice root is used in making various confections, including the popular rope-like sweet treat. Licorice root is also used to make lozenges, syrups and teas.
It is also used to treat a variety of illnesses, ranging from the common cold to liver disease. It acts as a demulcent, a soothing, coating agent, and as an expectorant, meaning it helps get rid of phlegm. It is still used today for several conditions, although not all its uses are supported by scientific evidence. Licorice that has the active ingredient of glycyrrhiza can have serious side effects. Another type of licorice, called DGL or deglycyrrhizinated licorice, doesn't seem to have the same side effects and is sometimes used to treat peptic ulcers, canker sores, and reflux (GERD). Whole licorice is still sometimes suggested for cough, asthma, and other breathing problems. Topical preparations are used for eczema and other skin problems.
Steeping Suggestions: 1½ tsp. tea, 8 oz. steaming (180-212°) water, steep for 3 - 3 ½ minutes.
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