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Glycyrrhiza Spp. | Licorice | Gan Cao | Yashti madhu

  • PARTS USED: Root
  • TASTE: Sweet
  • CHARACTER: Neutral
  • MERIDIANS: Heart, Lung, Spleen, Stomach
  • ACTIONS: Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, anti-allergenic, antitussive, hypotensive, steroidal action, cholagogue

As well as strengthening Qi, Gan Cao (G. uralensis) is used to clear heat, moisten the lungs, and stop coughing. In the West a related species (G. glabra) is used for digestive and respiratory problems, for gastric ulcers, and constipation. In India the plant is known as yashti madhu, or honey stick, and is mainly used to increase kapha, lubricate the lungs, and liquefy mucus. It is often used with ginger for colds with coughs.

Avoid Gan Cao in abdominal fullness; avoid licorice in excess kapha syndromes or high blood pressure; best avoided in osteoporosis.


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Tonic wines

A daily glass of tonic wine is a delightful way to take herbal remedies. A crockery vinegar vat is best, although a large rum pot or glass jar is also suitable. Fill the vat with the chosen tonic herb-ideally using a root remedy such as ginger, licorice, or Dang Gui rather than leafy parts-then cover with a good-quality red wine (preferably organic). Leave the mix for at least two weeks before drawing the liquid off in a daily sherry-glass dose (2-3f1 oz/60-75ml). Keep the herb covered with more red wine to prevent it from going moldy. The wine will continue to extract active constituents from the roots for several months before you need to replace the herbs.


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