Liquorice (Madhuyashti, or Glycyrrhiza glabra) famous as a household remedy for cough and cold and other chest complaints is a widely used medicine in ayurveda. Its tall erect shrub grows in northern parts of Kashmir. Nowadays, it is also successfully cultivated in many other parts of the Shivalik hills. Its rootstock throws numerous additional roots, or in some other forms like branched stems near the rootstock remaining underground. These roots and the underground stems constitute the drug.

The dried roots of Glycirrhiza glabra are used as mulathi. This contains many active compounds which are described below:

  • Triterpenes of the oleanane type, mainly glycyrrhizin (=glycyrrhizic or glycyrrhizinic acid), and its agylcone glycyrrhetinic acid (=glycyrrhitic acid), liquiritic acid, glycyrrhetol, glabrolide, isoglabrolide, licoric acid, & phytosterols.
  • Flavonoids and isoflavonoids; liquiritigenin, liquiritin, rhamnoliquiritin, neoliquiritin, licoflavonol, licoisoflavones A and B, licoisoflavanone, formononetin, glabrol, glabrone, glyzarin, kumatakenin and others.
  • Coumarins; liqcoumarin, umbelliferone, herniarin glycyrin.
  • Chalcones; liquiritigenin, isoliquiritigenin, neosoliquiritin, rhamnoisoliquiritin, licuraside, licochalcones A and B, echinatin and others.
  • Polysaccharides, mainly glucans.
  • Volatile oil, containing fenchone, linalool, furfuryl alcohol, benzaldehyde.
  • Miscellaneous; starch, sugars, amino acid etc

Therapeutic benefits

In cold : Mulathi is sweet with a little bitter after taste and has a cooling effect. Since ancient times, mulathi has been one of the most popular remedies for cough and sore throat. A small piece of it, chewed or sucked, can bring a lot of relief in dry cough and hoarseness of voice. It is most often used to control bouts of cough associated with bronchitis, asthma and other chest diseases. Only half a teaspoonful of mulathi powder taken with a little honey, removes the bronchial spasm and gently clears the respiratory tract by expectorating out the phlegm.

Tea prepared from equal amounts of mulathi, saunf, ginger and a few leaves of tulsi treats common cold, removes throat congestion, cures bodyache and generally gives a refreshing feeling. Besides, mulathi also improves voice, lessens thirst, removes billiousness and heals peptic ulcer.

In hyperacidity and peptic ulcer: Half a gram of mulathi powder taken with fresh coconut juice gives relief from pain and burning epigastrium. It also helps in healing of the peptic ulcer. Mixed specifically with amla and loh bhasma, mulathi makes the famous ayurvedic medicine Dhatri Loha, which is highly beneficial in hyper acidity, anemia, malnutrition and other allied problems.

Mild tonic: In Ayurveda, mulathi is also considered a mild tonic. Given for a fortnight with an equal amount of powder of ashwagandha, it shows very good results in chronic fatigue syndrome.

UTI: Due to its anti-bacterial properties mulathi is helpful in curing chronic urinary tract infections. Given with a little ash of alum it has very good results in the treatment of non-specific vaginal discharges.

Antihepatotoxic: As an anti-hepatotoxic licorice is effective in the treatment of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, for which it is been widely used in Japan. Much of the liver orientated research has focused upon the triterpene glycyrrhizin. This inhibits hepatocyte injury caused by carbon tetrachloride, benzene hexachloride and PCB. Antibody production is enhanced by glycyrrhizin, possibly through the production of interleukin.

Inactivates herpes simplex virus: Glycyrrhizin inhibits the growth of several DNA and RNA viruses, inactivating Herpes simplex virus particles irreversibly.

Brain nourisher: It nourishes the brain-increasing cranial and cerebrospinal fluid.

Liquorice also improves complexion, hair, and vision

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