Licorice

Health Power

The phytonutrients in licorice have been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many common ailments. Prepare as a tea, make lozenges or simply chew on the root. Stores carry it as an extract, powder or loose leaves. Many use it to help aid digestive problems, like indigestion, heartburn and irregularity; has mild laxative properties. May help produce energy and increase stamina. Most popular use is to relieve chest congestion, coughs or sore throats. Glycoside stimulates production of thin mucus in membranes of stomach and respiratory tract and helps clear out lungs and throat. Useful as a soothing skin ointment. Has antimicrobial properties (including antiviral and antibacterial). Inhibits the hepatitis virus. Some women use licorice root as a dietary supplement to relieve premenstrual syndrome and symptoms of menopause. Research suggests this effect comes from preventing spikes in estrogen levels. May also help decrease mood swings and hot flashes. Not to be used during pregnancy, because it is linked to increased risk of premature labor. Side effects of prolonged use include water retention and lower potassium levels. Use caution and consult physician if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – A, B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B5 (Niacin), B6 (Pyridoxine), Folate & E
Minerals – Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium and Sodium

Disease Prevention

May relieve symptoms of ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, hepatitis C, bronchitis, sore throat, bronchial asthma and acid reflux.

How to Grow

Native to Southern Europe, licorice grows as a perennial legume developing into a thin shrub with pretty lilac pea flowers. Prefers full sun and tolerates different soil types. Takes 3-4 years for roots to mature for harvest. Simple to grow but requires initial preparation. Scratch the surface of each seed with sandpaper or a file and soak in water for 24 hours. Fill 4-inch pots with soil/planting mix. Pack down firmly. Place each mini pot in a tray that can hold an inch or more of water. Fill tray with water and let soil saturate. Poke ¼-inch holes 1 inch apart in the center of each pot and place licorice seeds down one per hole. Fill holes with ¼ inch of soil. Place tray with pots where they will get 8-10 hours of filtered light and temperature between 60-70˚F. Keep seedlings soil moist but not sopping. Transplant outdoors in spring. Clear site of weeds and work planting mix/aged compost into soil to achieve high fertility, water retention and good drainage. Prefers pH close to 6. Dig holes same depth as 4-inch pots and a bit wider. Plant seedlings 2.5-3 feet apart. Remove seedling along with its soil by turning the pot upside down and sliding it out. Place down in their holes and fill the hole with well amended fertile soil. Water deeply during the first year, keeping soil moist. After first year, water only in dry weather. Roots ready to harvest 3-4 years after planting.

Insect Control

No real pests threaten healthy maturation.

Tips

To extract the essential oils, chop and clean the roots. Soak the roots (if dried) overnight to plump them up. Place them in food processor or blender with equal amounts of water. Grind them down so root pieces are the size of sand particles. Pour water and root mixture into pot, cover (to retain volatile portions of oil), and simmer on low heat for an hour or more. Turn heat off, let cool, strain the roots out, place liquid in lightproof container, cover and refrigerate.

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