The roots of the licorice plant are long, fleshy, and sweet. Used for food and medicine by Native Americans, this herb proves useful in treatments for asthma, cold and flu symptoms, and earache. If you have a toothache, you can try chewing on licorice root to ease the pain while you wait for a dental appointment.
Parts Used: Root
Precautions: Licorice root is best used in moderation, as overuse can lead to water retention, low potassium, and elevated blood pressure. Do not use licorice root if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hypertension.
Identifying/Growing: Licorice has naturalized throughout Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean region, and North America. The plants have light, spreading foliage with small leaflets and graceful flowers in violet, pale blue, pale yellow, or purplish colors. The seeds grow in pods that look like miniature peapods, and the roots penetrate to depths of 3 to 4 feet below the earth’s surface. Start licorice seeds indoors at least 2 weeks before the last frost or plant them in your garden after all danger of frost. Each plant needs at least 36 inches of space to thrive, and needs to be meticulously weeded. The plants may die back during winter but will reemerge in spring. You can dig the roots after 3 to 4 years have passed.