Licorice, also known as Gan Cao in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and glycyrrhizae radix in Latin, is a sweet and neutral herb that is used to tonify qi and balance the body's meridians. It is believed to have a positive effect on the Heart, Lung, Spleen, and Stomach meridians.
In TCM, licorice is used to tonify the Spleen and augment qi, which can be helpful for people experiencing shortness of breath, lassitude, or loose stools. It is also believed to moisten the Lungs and stop cough, making it useful for cough and wheezing. Additionally, licorice is thought to moderate spasms and alleviate pain, and can be used to treat painful spasms of the abdomen or leg.
Licorice is also known for its ability to clear heat and eliminate toxins in the body. It is used to treat carbuncles, sores, and sore throat due to fire toxin, and can be used as an antidote for various toxins both internally and topically. Additionally, licorice is believed to have a harmonizing effect on the body and is used to moderate and balance the body's systems.
However, licorice should be used with caution and is contraindicated in cases of distention and fullness in the chest and abdomen, as well as vomiting due to overabundant dampness.
In terms of pharmacology, licorice has a wide range of potential health benefits. It has been shown to have antiarrhythmic, antidiabetic, antidiarrheal, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antitussive, antiulcer, antiviral, and detoxifying effects, and is also believed to have endocrine and expectorant properties. It may also have hepatoprotective and immunostimulant effects.