Licorice is a native weed to Europe and Asia. Its Root is widely used for its oddly sweet extract. You may be familiar with licorice candy, although like everything else these days, its rarely actual licorice root used in candy anymore, instead usually a man made flavoring.
The Ancient Egyptians first documented use of Licorice in 360 A.D. They thought of it as a universal remedy for pretty much all ailments from eye disorders, to tummy troubles, to skin rashes and everything in between. They made it into beverages for easy consumption. The plant was dried and placed inside King Tut’s tomb.
The Chinese believed it beneficial for treating coughs, colds, flu, depression, lethargy, bad breath, and more. It is still a popular choice amongst Chinese herbalists.
Licorice Root is a robust anti oxidant,which helps fight free radical damage when applied topically. Antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage, environmental toxins, and premature ageing. Licorice is also used to hush hypersensitive skin being one of the few proven ingredients to have a calming effect on rosacea and eczema. It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it super effective for calming skin and reducing puffiness, making it an excellent go to for under eye treatment products. I always recommend products containing licorice root to my clients with hyper-pigmentation, sun spots and/ or melasma because it contains liquirtin and licochal which reduce melanin production. These components of licorice have been shown to be as effective as hydroquinone (a drug prescribed for hyper-pigmentation) at reducing enzyme activity that produces melanin, according to a 2009 study done by The Pakistan Association of Dermatologists. When combined with a good old retinol (vitamin A derivative), the duo reduces pigmentation, while increasing cell turnover, out with the old, in with the new!It can even be found in many sunscreens. Another unique benefit of using licorice to treat sun damage is because it naturally contains UV blocking enzymes, it doesn’t increase the risk of sunburn during treatment (photo-sensitivity) like its competitors.
Licorice root can also be taken internally. Licorice is similar to the popular drug mucinex in how it causes expulsion from the lungs. It cleanses the lungs by ridding them of old mucus, while producing new mucus to protect. No wonder the Chinese have used it for many years to treat coughs and colds. Licorice is also an effective treatment for heartburn when ingested. Licorice also balances the bacteria in the gut, and has been used to treat Dysbiosis.
I think we can all agree this is one weed that we shouldn’t be pulling, unless it’s to make tea or tinctures.