I love licorice in everything – tea, candy, toothpaste, sticky rice (try it!) and liquor. Licorice, fennel and anise are my top three “tummy herbs” especially for acidic constitutions who are prone to heartburn and acid reflux. The keywords for licorice are “very sweet, neutral, moist, restoring, calming, relaxing, softening.” Licorice Root is well known to calm an upset stomach (metabolic acidosis). It also increases nutrient absorption, regulates immunity and calms a dry, spasmodic cough (The Energetics of Western Herbs by Peter Holmes).
Licorice root has been used throughout the centuries and around the world. Traditional Chinese Medicine calls it “Gan Cao”; the ancient Greeks called it “Glykyrizza” (lending the name for it’s current Latin botanical name “Glycyrrhiza glabra”); in Japan it is known as “Kanzo”.
The root is traditionally harvested at the end of the summer when the plant begins to concentrate it’s energies back into the roots. It is then dried and toasted to increase absorption. For any digestive complaints it is best to make a decoction by pouring boiling water over the dried and toasted root and letting it steep for ten minutes to an hour. Licorice tea is naturally sweet and can curb the most determined sweet tooth while reducing the overproduction of stomach acid after a big meal.
However you source your licorice, make sure it’s the real thing! There are plenty of “imitation” licorice products, especially in the candy aisle.