Mmmm... sweet delicious licorice. It's what I think of when I got that weird feeling in my throat like I might be getting a cold. Or when I get a little tummy ache that needs a little soothing. Or when I'm feeling a little mucous-y.
Licorice is a demulcent (an herb that moistens the body and protects the mucous membranes) and an expectorant (an herb that increases the discharge of mucous from the body). So, instead of removing mucous through a drying action, it increases and liquefies it promoting its flow out of the body. Demulcents tend to me more soothing and so often help calm the heart and nerves as well. For those of us with vata minds and who need to expel a little kapha dosha from the body, licorice ends up being a great herbal solution! So if you have a sore throat, cough, cold, laryngitis, inflammation or bronchitis - take licorice root! (It should be noted that while it is good for temporary use on kapha dosha and mucous, long term use will aggravate kapha dosha.)
Licorice is also a mild laxative that soothes and tones the mucous membranes which reduces inflammation and muscle spasms. Spiritually, since it is sattvic, it brings contentment and harmony to the individual. As well, its taste can mask the not-so-pleasant taste of other herbs and bring harmony to an herb mixture that is heating and drying. It can also be used in the healing of ulcers, as it acts like the body's natural corticosteroids.
So, how do you take it? Well, you CAN just chew on the root - though that might depend on how tough the root is and how tough your teeth are. If it is chopped up you should be fine (like in the picture below), but just use caution. I don't want any chipped teeth on my hands! You can also add the root to boiling water for 5 minutes or so and make a tea out of it. It tastes really good with ginger and is also a very effective cold fighter when combined that way. Apparently, combined with ginger and cardamom, it is also a great tonic for the teeth. I have yet to try that, but that combo sounds pretty wonderful to me, considering my love for all three of those things.
And for those of you who think you don't like licorice, I recommend trying the root on its own. It is quite sweet and fairly different from the black licorice you might be used to! I didn't like licorice growing up, but I've been chewing on licorice root during the duration of the writing this blog post and it is GOOD! Like saying "mmmmm" out loud good. Which is a thing I might have done while writing this...
See ya later HerbBlurbers!