Name: Licorice naked
Other names: Licorice.
Diseases and effects: lung diseases accompanied by cough, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic agent for hyperacid gastritis, peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum.
Active substances: saponin-glycyrrhizin, flavonoids liquiritin, liquiritoside, isoliquiritin, glabric, glycyrrhetic acid, steroids, saponins, tannins.
Collection time: August – September
Licorice is a perennial herbaceous plant of the legume family with a height of 50 to 150 cm. The underground organs of the plant, which are raw materials for harvesting, consist of the mother root, as well as vertical and horizontal rhizomes that form a multi-tiered network of weaves and are strengthened in the soil with adventitious roots. Licorice roots penetrate to a depth of up to 8 m, traditionally reaching the groundwater level. Above-ground shoots extend both from the main root and from vertical and horizontal rhizomes, with the help of which individual individuals grow vegetatively over an area of up to several tens of square meters. Rhizome segments take root well, so vegetative propagation is the main way to renew licorice and expand its thickets.\r
Stems glabrous or sparsely and shortly pubescent, traditionally with infrequently scattered punctate glandules or glandular spines. The leaves are pinnately compound, 5 to 20 cm long, with 3-10 pairs of glands sticky from the abundance, shiny, dense oblong-ovate or lanceolate leaflets. Inflorescences are rather loose axillary racemes 5 to 12 cm long, with a peduncle 3-7 cm long. Flowers 8-12 mm long, with a whitish-purple corolla and a sharp-toothed calyx. Fruit – oblong, straight or slightly curved 1-8 – seed bean up to 3.5 cm long, naked or covered with glandular spines. Blossoms in May-June, fruits ripen in August-September.\r
In medicine, licorice root is used to obtain medicinal products of glociram, liquiriton and flacarbine.\r
Licorice is mainly distributed along the floodplains and river valleys of the steppe and semi-desert regions of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, the Caucasus and the south of the European part of the country. A feature of its habitat is a relatively high level of groundwater and temporary flooding with water in spring and summer. It also grows along the banks and in the beds of dried-up rivers and oxbow lakes, along the banks of shallow streams, ditches and ditches. The common licorice lives both on the flat spaces of the interfluves and on the mountain slopes, traditionally preferring small depressions and depressions. Being a malicious weed, it is often found in crops, plantings and fallows. In the mountains, where the roots can reach groundwater, it rises to a height of 2000 m above sea level.\r
Procurement and quality of raw materials
The roots and rhizomes of licorice are harvested depending on the place of harvesting and weather conditions from March to November. Industrial harvesting of licorice root is carried out in a mechanized way – plowing with a plantation plow with tractor traction. Less commonly, the root is dug up by hand with shovels. When collecting raw materials, only 50-75% of the total supply of roots and rhizomes should be selected. 25-50% of the rhizomes must be left in the soil to ensure the restoration of the licorice thicket through vegetative propagation. Repeated harvesting of raw licorice in the same area is approximately possible after 6-8 years, during which the thicket is traditionally completely restored. In the mechanized extraction of raw materials, following the collection of the root, additional agrotechnical measures should be used to help restore licorice thickets.\r
The range of licorice is declining, it is included in the Red Book of some states. It is recommended to streamline licorice preparations and introduce it into the culture. Restoring the raw material base of licorice is likely in two ways:\r
- cultivation of wild-growing thickets (removal of trees and shrubs, turfs of large-stemmed cereals and planting licorice) and thus increasing their productivity;\r
- expansion of industrial plantations.
The collected roots and rhizomes of licorice are first folded into loose stacks for air drying. In areas where the likelihood of solar drying is limited by adverse weather conditions, the roots can be dried under a canopy with good drafts or in fire dryers at a temperature not exceeding 60 ° C. A root is considered dry when it breaks when bent and does not bend. The dried root is sent for further processing to the factory.\r
In appearance and chemical properties, licorice root must comply with the requirements of the state standard, according to which the thickness of the segments of roots and rhizomes is from 5 to 50 mm or more, the length is different; the root at the break is light yellow in color and without rot. The chemical characteristic includes the following indicators: moisture no more than 14%; ash no more than 8%; extractive substances not less than 25%; glycyrrhizic acid not less than 6%.\r
From the roots and rhizomes of licorice, up to 23% of saponin-glycyrrhizin (potassium and calcium salt of glycyrrhizic acid), which gives them a sweet taste, and up to 4% of flavonoids (liquiritin, liquiritozide, isoliquiritin, etc.), glabric, glycyrrhetic acid, steroids, essential oil, asparagine, ascorbic acid, bitter pigments, gums, etc.\r
The aerial part of licorice contains saponins, tannins, flavonoids, essential oils, sugars, pigments and other substances. This opens up prospects for the use in medicine of the above-ground part of licorice as a possible raw material for creating products to counterbalance the burning, protistocidal, antispasmodic and antiviral action.\r
Application in medicine
Licorice root in the form of decoctions, infusions, extracts or powder is prescribed as an expectorant for lung diseases accompanied by cough, as an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic for hyperacid gastritis, peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum, as part of therapeutic mixtures – as a diuretic and laxative. As an aid, galenic forms of licorice root are used for Addison’s disease, hypofunction of the adrenal cortex. In order to stimulate the adrenal cortex, licorice is used for systemic lupus, allergic dermatitis, pemphigus, etc. Licorice root powder is also widely used in pharmaceutical practice as a base for pills and as a means of improving the taste and smell of drugs.\r
In our country, the following targeted medicinal products have been obtained from licorice root: based on glycyrrhizic acid – glycyram (for the treatment of bronchial asthma, allergic dermatitis, eczema and other diseases), based on flavonoids – liquiriton and flacarbine (for the treatment of peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum ).\r
Licorice root infusion
10 g (1 tablespoon) of crushed licorice root is placed in an enamel bowl, pour 200 ml (1 cup) of hot water, cover with a lid and heat (in a water bath) for 15-20 minutes. Then they are cooled at room temperature for 45 minutes, filtered and the remaining raw material is squeezed out. The resulting infusion is diluted with boiled water to an initial volume of 200 ml. Take 1 tablespoon 3-4 times every day as an expectorant. The infusion is stored in a cool place for no more than 2 days.