Chinese Herb History – Licorice Root

We thought you may be interested to take a closer look at a few of the herbs we know and love. If you are one to have a nosy through your raw herbs you are likely to recognise this little beauty, it’s added to almost every formula!


Gan Cao 甘草 – literally translated as sweet root, commonly known as Licorice Root.

Gan Cao has  sweet, neutral to cool properties and enters all 12 energy channels.

It has many functions in Chinese Medicine including strengthening the Qi of the Spleen and Heart, moistening the Lung, clearing heat toxins, calming muscular spasms and moderating the effects of other herbs.

Liquorice root is lovely as a tea and can be taken after a meal to help get over those sugar cravings and ease digestion. It can be mixed with peppermint and fennel to ease a sore throat, or with wheat and Chinese date to calm the spirit.

In the wonderful coffee table reference book Chinese Natural Cures by Henry C. Lu – he outlines a Chinese Proverb connected to licorice root in Chinese medicine.

“A popular herbalist had left home to make house call and in over a month had still not returned. This was naturally causing anxiety among his patients who had been coming to him for treatment, his wife was very concerned about these patients and decided to do something about it.
Since she knew little about herbs, she began to taste them all – she tasted sour herbs, bitter herbs, salty herbs, pungent herbs and sweet herbs. Thinking most people would prefer the sweet herbs, she decided to give all the patients the same sweet herb.
This sweet herb produced good results and more and more patients came back to get it. In fact the business became much better in the absence of the herbalist which puzzled him a great deal  on his return.
Wondering how this sweet herb could bring about such good results, the herbalist deiced to continue giving it to all the patients who came to see him. Through close observation he found that the herb was most effective for low energy, coughing and pain.  It also showed an useful ability to lessen the harsh nature of other herbs and enhance the overall effect of a formula.   -Herny C. Lu

If you’d like a little bit more licorice in your life try our Harmonising and Happy teas or give one of these recipes a go!


Caramelized Carrot Licorice Root Soup


Chicken Soup With Ginseng and Licorice

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