Licorice Root : Restoring Balance

There are two types of associations with licorice in the states: one is to those candy-red twists you ate in movie theaters, or from plastic tubs in long vines; the other is to those squat “panda-endorsed-all-natural” licorice. Most kids growing up in past 30 years have some awareness (and allegiance) to one or the other (despite whether they enjoy the anise-like flavor). But did you know these “licorice” products manufactured in the U.S. don’t contain any licorice at all? Instead, they contain anise oil, which shares a distinctive smell and taste of true so-named “black licorice.”

It’s too bad really, because real licorice is really healthy and helpful, depending on your needs.

Native to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and south-central Russia, today, two types of licorice are sold supplemental. One is the whole root and its extract and you will recognize it because it has a long name usually attached to it because it contains glycyrrhizic acid. The other is known as DGL Licorice because it has been deglycyrrhinated. And it’s important to know the difference, because they do VERY different things.

  • DGL Licorice is really good for digestive disorders.

It’s largely used to treat acid reflux, and is safe for long-term use due to its deglycyrrhination. It’s also been studied for its ability to ease pain, prevent ulcers, relieves GALT issues, or smooth muscle spasms. Promotes proper pancreatic secretions. It also relieves cough, respiratory disorders, eczema, and as a paste to fight dental plaque. You often find it as an ingredient in herbal toothpastes.

  • Whole Root Licorice is really good for resolving adrenal exhaustion.

It’s largely used to help the body re-regulate and how the body associated with cortisol, and thereby boosts adrenal function and enhances overall stress resistance. Licorice root literally blocks the body from being able to breakdown cortisol, which helps to normalize your natural stress hormone levels and may even help fight arrhythmias.

Licorice root (and its extracts) should be taken with food before 1pm if you hope to regulate and restore normal cortisol. This is because those suffering  with adrenal exhaustion typically show low cortisol levels in “the A.M.” and higher in “the PM”, offering up to the list of complaints poor sleep due to night time “second winds.” 

It is helpful in cases of diuresis, helps to protect the heart by lowering lipid level, and can help protect the liver. They also use it to support those suffering Addison’s Disease.

Interestingly, the way western medicine tends to use Whole Root glycyrrhizic Licorice is different than how it’s used in Traditional Chinese methods. In the west, it’s an anti-inflammatory and antacid for the TGI tract. In TCM, it’s an astounding “harmonizer” to support androgenic properties and needs. “The adrenal glands produce important hormones that regulate the body’s response to stress” (1) and adrenal failure is common for those abusing steroid drugs (2) over a long period of time.

How else would you know you may need itwell,how hooked on coffee are you?

Warning: Any type of herbal supplement needs to be taken appropriately, it’s not a one-size fits all and it’s not a prescriptive to be used indefinitely. So for those who need it, it’s incredible but always use medicinals responsibly.

Contraindications: This is serious herbal medicine and shoot not be jumped into without help and referral by TCM herbalists or similar physicians. Heart disease, female cancers, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, High BP or Kidney disease. Can lower testosterone in men. Stop taking licorice at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. It’s unsafe when Pregnant and breast-feeding. High consumption ( >200 grams of licorice per week), seems to increase risk of miscarriage or early delivery. 



  1. The adrenal glands produce important hormones that regulate the body’s response to stress
  2. Abusing steroid drugs