Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) owes its name to the sweet taste of its roots - from Greek, glykys= sweet and, rhiza= root. Nowadays, the most famous product from liquorice root, the liquorice candy, is known as a delicious treat.
The long-lived, over 1 m high perennial is anchored in the ground with a long, thick root system and is covered with many small, pale lilac-coloured butterfly blossoms. The liquorice fruits are 1.5 to 2.5 cm long pods with kidney-shaped seeds.
The root contains not only sweet but also healing ingredients that have been used for millennia in connection with gastrointestinal complaints. The earliest evidence comes from ancient Egypt, where it was thought that pharaohs could prepare a sweet drink called mai sus in the afterlife. The Greeks and Romans knew liquorice as a cold remedy.
Read further to learn how liquorice root works and what to look out for when taking it.