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Licorice

Body+Soul, January/February 2007

A must-have for your winter medicine cabinet, licorice root ranks among the most versatile of herbs the world over. In Asian, Middle Eastern, and Western herbal traditions, it soothes coughs, sore throats, and upset stomachs; boosts the immune system; and fights season-induced weariness by supporting the adrenal glands. Black Twizzlers don't count (most mass-produced "licorice" candy contains similar-tasting anise), but you'll find natural licorice in medicinal teas, tinctures (liquid herbal extracts), and lozenges.

Make Your Own
Licorice is overly sweet by itself, but you can combine it with other herbs for delicious, effective teas. For coughs and sore throats, simmer equal parts dried licorice, dried marshmallow leaf, and dried cinnamon "chips" for 20 minutes and strain (try 1 to 2 teaspoons total dried herbs in 8 ounces of water).

Where to Buy
Licorice root, along with marshmallow leaf, cinnamon, and ginger, are available at most herb stores or online from Mountain Rose Herbs and Jean's Greens.

Safety First
Because high or prolonged doses of licorice can raise blood pressure, people with hypertension should avoid this herb.