Licorice: A Detoxifier and System Cleanser and Its Role in Addictive Behavior

Licorice: the most important Chinese herb

Licorice is called ¡°Sweet Herb¡± in China and is one of the most important herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine and its benefits cover extensive range of health concerns. It is used in the treatment of energy deficiency, to fortify the spleen and stomach and treatment of cough with dyspnea; It is used in dealing with irregular heart and blood functions, relieving spasm and pain; it helps treat phylogenic infections, e.g. carbuncles, deep-rooted carbuncles, furuncles, multiple abscesses, scrofula, ulcer, sore throat, etc. It is also effective in the treatment of pesticides poisoning and food poisoning. Licorice is uniquely used to co-ordinate actions of various herbal ingredients in the prescription.

Licorice As An Anti-addictive Herb

But what worth special mentioning is the property of licorice to clear toxins from the body as a wonderful system cleanser.

How Licorice Works

The secret lies in the fact that it contains glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin and its calcium salt possess detoxifying action on bacterial toxins (diphtherin, tetanin), poisonous foods and drugs, and toxins of metabolic products. Glycyrrhizin when degraded yields glucuronic acid, which in the liver will combine with toxic materials to form glucuronide to produce a detoxifying action. (Hong-Yen Hsu et al: Oriental Materia Madica: A Concise Guide, 1986, Keats Publishing, pp532-533)

An Herb That Is Kept Busy

For this function it is used in correcting addictive behaviors, including smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse. Opium brought disasters to the Chinese nation and as a ¡°side-effect¡±, it also prompted Chinese herbal doctors into action to deal with the wide spread substance abuse. As a result traditional Chinese medicine is very strong in dealing with indicative behaviors. During Mao¡¯s time drug abuse was virtually eliminated but smoking became even more common than ever before. This situation kept Chinese doctors busy. Recent Chinese economic development and its open policy brought with it the comeback of drug use. Doctors thought of various ways, but whatever they do, they always have to come back to licorice, because not only its defoxifying power is strong, it is also good to the respiratory system as a whole, stopping coughing, moistening the lung and the wind pipe. For this almost all Chinese formulas for drug addiction and other addictive behaviors, including stop smoking, would have licorice in it and licorice is becoming more popular than ever before.

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