Herbal Health Information on Licorice

When I was training all those years ago we had a patient come to the training clinic in Balham who was suffering from a peculiar range of seemingly unconnected  symptoms including, fatigue, low motivation, general aches and pains, digestive disorders and the rest. We treated her for quite a few weeks to try and improve her general well being with no improvement. Then one of the other students had coincidentally been studying the endocrine system and reading about Adrenal exhaustion due to prolonged stress.

We discussed the patient’s symptoms and when she returned to the clinic asked her if she had been suffering from stress. She said she had but it was over now so had not mentioned it in her original consultation.

When we are under stress the adrenal glands, which are situated on top of the kidneys, produce adrenaline to help us cope with the stress. You have probably heard about the fight or flight reaction to stress which is actually a production of hormones, adrenaline being the major one, which either give us the ability to run and get away from the source of the stress e.g. BIG MAMMOTH chasing us, RUN! Or help us to stay and face the situation, e.g. BIG MAMMOTH chasing us but actually I would like some for my dinner so I will stay and fire a few stone arrows at it.

If the stress is continuous then the adrenal glands will produce adrenaline for a certain length of time, but then switch off. This is known as adrenal exhaustion and the body then cannot cope with either stress or day to day living. In most cases, the adrenal glands will recover on their own after a period of rest, but if for whatever reason they don’t, then they need help to be switched on again.

We changed tactics and treated this patient with a mixture of herbs to support the endocrine system and the adrenal glands in particular. Licorice was our herb of choice to treat the adrenal glands and it worked like magic (which is of course why herbal medicine had such a mystique surrounding it).Within a month she was back to her old self and full of energy. We kept her on the mix for another two months and then weaned her off after which she was able to maintain her own well being.

Licorice which can also be spelled Liquorice, before you all tell me I have spelled it wrong, is described as “the universal herb”. It has a long history of use by the ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Greeks for strengthening the body.

It is used as a cough remedy, has anti inflammatory properties, is an adrenal restorative, has anti stress, anti viral and anti depressive properties.it also regulates hormones.

This is not all the properties it has but I think it would just be showing off  if I wrote down any more.

Basically it is what is known as an alterative which means it restores body function to normal.

There is always a BUT and that is that if you have high blood pressure you cannot take Licorice as it also has an affect on the kidney blood pressure control mechanism. This will not affect an healthy individual but may affect the blood pressure of someone already suffering from hypertension.

Plants and medicine are so fascinating aren’t they?

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Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/herbal Health Information.