Yashtimadhu is a very widely used herb in Indian Ayurveda and Chinese medicine that derives its name from Yashti meaning “taste” and Madhu meaning “sweet” and is used in the treatment of Vata and Pitta disorders. Its botanical name Glycyrrhiza originates from Greek words glukos meaning “sweet” and rhiza meaning “root”.
Therapeutic references of Yastimadhu have been made in “The code of Hammurabi” about 3800 years ago in Babylon and also in Egypt about 3000 years ago when Egyptians used to decoct a tonic from it and put it in Funeral jars to take with them in the afterlife.
Scientific name: Glycyrrhiza glabra
Mulethi / Licorice is actually the roots of a sweet tasting herbaceous perennial plant commonly found dispersed natively throughout India, Asia and southern Europe. It grows up to 1 meter in height with pinnate leaves (70-150mm long), whitish blue and purple flowers and oblong pods as fruits measuring 20-30mm approx.
Most of the Yashtimadhu root is collected from the wild produce. It takes 6-7 years for a root to be harvestable and hence commercial farming is not profitable enough.
A Saponin glycoside named glycyrrhizic acid/ glycyrrhizin found in this plant makes it about 30-50 times sweeter than sugar. It also contains Anethol, a sweet compound which is also found in Fennel. Chalcone Glycoside Isoliquiritin imparts it a yellowish colour from the inside. The sweetness of Licorice lingers on the tongue lasts longer than the sugar.
In Ayurveda, this herb is defined to have Sheeta i.e cold potency, heavy Guru and oily Snigadh quality. It is beneficial mainly to pacify Vata and Pitta Doshas and majorly benefits Liver, stomach, intestines, brain, heart and blood vessels. Ancient Central Asian Steppes have been said to survive up to 12 days without water by sucking Licorice.
Actions Of Mulethi Plant
Major actions of Mulethi plant are enumerated below:
- Anti-inflammatory – reduces swelling and inflammation.
- Anti-oxidant – prevents and cures free radical damage to the body.
- Anti-tussive- works against cough.
- Analgesic- relieves pain.
- Anti-adipogenic- works against deposition of fats.
- Expectorant- that breaks up mucus and promotes cough reflex for expulsion mucus.
- Antioxidant and Depurative- one which detoxifies and purifies the body.
- Carminative- helping in the expulsion of excess gas from the intestines.
- Mild estrogenic- might influence oestrogen production in women.
These actions make it useful in a wide variety of health conditions.
Yashtimadhu Uses & Benefits
- Liquorice also cures cough, sore throat, asthma and tonsillitis as it is an effective decongestant and expectorant.
- Remedy: For soreness of throat mix 2 grams of Mulethi powder and 2 grams of Sitopaladi churna in one tsp. of Honey and lick this mixture up to twice a day.
Yashtimadhu decoction or liquorice water can be used as gargles too.
- Also used in Hay fever, Allergic Rhinitis and Hoarseness of voice.
- In Asthma, it is used with Pushkarmool powder and honey.
Mulethi For Digestive System
- Helps in effective working of Digestive functions and thus in hyperacidity acting as an antacid.
- In Ayurveda, a regime of Yashtimadhu, Indian Gooseberry Amla, Bamboo Mana Vanshlochan and Giloy Satva together is used to treat Ulcerative Colitis.
- Liquorice can relieve 50- 70% relief from Aphthous ulcers within 1 day of use and nearly full remission within 3 days. Mouth ulcers can be relieved by taking either Yashtimadhu tea or gargles of mulehati/ mulethi water (cooled down tea).
- Relieves obstinate constipation. Drink tea 2-3 times per week.
- Potent flavonoids present in Yashtimadhu named Glabidin and Glabrene are inhibitory to the growth of H.Pylori. Helicobacter Pylori infection and the resulting peptic ulcers are curable with the use of this herb.
Yashtimadhu aids weight loss by –
- Managing digestion issues and constipation.
- Flavonoids present in Licorice inhibit the storage of excessive cholesterol in the body.
- Reduces cholesterol levels and maintains healthy heart functioning.
- Taken orally, it hinders the accumulation of abdominal fat in healthy individuals.
- Liquorice oil is used externally to reduce fat.
Avoid liquorice candy or sweets as they contain excess sugar and will hinder your weight loss efforts. Individuals can take tea regularly for weight loss.
Yashtimadhu For Skin & Hair
- Yashtimadhu has antibacterial and antioxidant qualities and hence protects against oxidative stress of pollution and harmful sun rays.
- Helps to treat baldness, eczema and psoriasis.
- Hair pack and then rinses with Mulethi powder can relieve Dandruff problem.
- Mulethi powder can be applied as a face pack after mixing with a small amount of honey or glycerine for an instant glow.
- Yashtimadhu oil, paste or gel formulations are used for external application on the skin and relieve itching, pain and swelling conditions of the skin like eczema and psoriasis.
- Various herbal shampoos have Yeshtimadhu as an ingredient for promoting hair growth. Since premature greying of hair and hair fall is caused by imbalances of Vata and Pitta doshas, mulethi balances these elements and helps in the said conditions too.
- Dark spots and blemishes are problems of Pitta dosha aggravation and are handled well by this herb. Mulethi and Amla (Indian Gooseberry) are used together for 3-6 months for their treatment according to Ayurveda.
- Yashtimadhu is also beneficial in maintaining Hepatic health however it is not beneficial enough to treat serious conditions when used alone. Hence in serious liver diseases, it is used in conjunction with other herbs like Punarnava, Giloy, Bhringraj and Patha.
- It reduces elevated Liver enzymes.
- Reduces hepatic cholesterol levels too and not just serum cholesterol levels.
- In cases of hepatitis, non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis and jaundice, roots of Mulethi or Licorice is very beneficial.
- Remedy: Just brew 1 tsp. of root powder in hot boiling water for 5-10 mins and sieve off to get a tasty decoction and drink once a day for a week only. This can be repeated after a gap of 3-4 weeks to maintain optimal liver health.
- Similarly, it is curative for gall bladder inflammation too.
- The herb also benefits joint pains by primarily reducing inflammation and swelling in affected joints –Arthritis and relieving pain as an analgesic.
- Also helps to relieve pain and swelling in Gout.
- Liquorice and Ashwagandha are prescribed together to treat symptoms of Osteoarthritis.
Yashtimadhu For Heart Health
- Maintains optimal heart health by fighting serum cholesterol.
- It also hampers the formation of plaque in the blood vessels which is also called Atherosclerosis and is one of the main causes of Heart Disease and CAD (Coronary Artery Disease).
- Anti-oxidant property is useful against cardiovascular disease by inhibiting free radical damage to the vascular system.
- Relieves anxiety, depression and emotional stress as it has anti-stress properties.
- Has been used in the treatment of Alzheimer ’s disease and other diseases with loss of memory.
- Yashtimadhu works on Adrenal gland and improves its functions. Improves hormonal imbalance in Addison’s disease.
- People on long term steroids therapy face an unavoidable side effect of suppressed adrenal function due to steroids. This problem is solved with Yashtimadhu in Ayurveda.
- In the menopausal women, the troublesome symptom of hot flushes is ameliorated by Yashtimadhu along with the use of Saraswatarishtha and Mukta Pishti.
The Chinese variety of Licorice is known to have Licochalcone compound which has high potent anti-malarial properties.
Migraine and Sinusitis
Yashtimadhu nasal drops are helpful in relieving sinusitis and Migraine problems in Ayurveda.
- It improves quality and generation of sperm in males and may be used in male Infertility.
- It has also been used as an aphrodisiac.
- It is also prescribed for issues of hyper-excitement and premature ejaculation in men.
- Though it has been used in Prostate hypertrophy and Prostate cancer, its exact role is not clearly supported yet.
Liquorice is good as a muscle relaxant of medium strength and anti-spasmodic. Thus useful in fibromyalgia, muscle cramps in post-dialysis patients and abdominal spasms/ colics.
Daily use of powder mixed in toothpaste or using a thick stem for brushing the teeth helps maintain adequate oral hygiene and treat tooth decay, gingivitis and bad breath.
It immensely helps in boosting the immunity and also has anti-bacterial properties.
- are curable with Yashtimadhu formulations in Ayurveda.
- Studies have shown that the Chinese variety of Licorice has an inhibitory effect on Tuberculosis causing Mycobacteria.
High Potassium Levels
- Liquorice decreases potassium levels in the blood. So is used therapeutically in Kidney disease with high potassium levels but serum potassium levels must be monitored closely to keep within the normal range.
- In patients with low potassium levels, this should be avoided due to the risk of potential severe myopathy by further lowering of serum potassium levels.
How is Mulethi tea prepared?
- Pound mulethi root (1-2 inch) and mix with 2 leaves of Tulsi and 2 leaves of pudina for cough relief.
- For weight loss, one can pound 1-2 inch root or simply add 1tsp of Licorice powder in a cup of hot boiling water and filter it to take orally once daily. One may add or omit to use half tsp. honey in this recipe.
Dosage/ How to Use Yasthimadhu?
Dosages of Yashtimadhu root herb depend on the form (taken as oil, paste, lotion, powder or as a wood piece orally) and the concerned disease. Consult your doctor for particular dosages in any form.
It is usually used as a mixture with other herbs in varied formulations but also can be taken solitary to reap specific benefits.
- Adults can take the power to make tea- 1tsp. 1-3 gram twice a day with water.
- Mulethi oil for external application for weight loss on the affected area.
- Small pieces (up to 1 inch) of the root itself can be sucked slowly over a long time to get relief in sore throat.
Children: For Children under 5 yrs of age, it’s not considered safe to use.
Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid any attempts of self-medication as it is not safe for them due to mild estrogenic property.
Breastfeeding women: should not take more than 6 grams a day and also not regularly if possible.
- Using Liquorice over 4 weeks regularly can be harmful and considered an overuse unless taken on expert advice. Especial care needs to be taken for use in Diabetics, Hypertensives, Hyperkalemics and Hypokalemics.
- If taken in overdosages, it may lead to stomach upset and indigestion in individuals prone to digestive issues.
- Consult a doctor before taking Liquorice if you are already on some anti-hypertensive (blood pressure) medications as it interacts with them and decreases the absorption and effect of these medications.
- Those taking potassium supplements should take it into account that Liquorice also helps in increasing potassium levels in the blood. Hence doses can be readjusted.
- Its use is better avoided in Diabetics, Hypertensives (high blood pressure patients), those with low potassium blood levels (Hypokalaemia) and Kidney disease.
- Some studies conclude that Mulethi reduces blood sugar and so blood sugar levels must be monitored in Diabetics if Mulethi is consumed regularly.
- Doses should be closely monitored and modified according to serum potassium levels if it is being used to reduce high potassium levels in individuals.
- Breastfeeding women should not take above 6 grams a day.
Yastimadhu and any products with its extracts should not be used in these conditions unless advised and monitored by a qualified expert:
- Kidney Disease unless the patient has very high potassium levels.
- Loss of Libido.
- Congestive Heart Failure.
- Hypertensive Encephalopathy.
- High blood pressure and patients with regular anti-hypertensive therapy.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Fluid retention.
Expiry date usually differs with different preparations and forms of medication used. Long term use over 4 weeks is to be avoided.
- Khadi Mulethi powder
- Luxura Mulethi powder
- Crafraft Yashtimadhu Roots
- Organic India Tulsi Mulethi Tea
- Yashtimadhu Nasal Drops
- Yashtimadhu Taila (oil) For Skin Massage
- Indigestion and stomach upset may occur if used in over-dosages.
- Long standing use of Licorice gives rise to low potassium and high Sodium levels in the blood.
- Bloating and fluid retention are rare side effects that may occur if taken for a very long time in continuation and if taken in an extract form rather than the raw form of Licorice.
- High Blood pressure: Blood pressure levels need to be monitored in Hypertensive patients if used at all though it is better to avoid using it. It increases blood pressure if taken in doses more than 10 grams a day for a long time and may lead to hypertensive encephalopathy. Mostly therapeutic doses range from 3 to 10 grams per day.
- Long duration uses of Mulethi can cause hypermineralocorticoidism.
- Unsafe in pregnancy due to mild estrogenic effect and risk of inducing preterm labour pains leading to premature births. However, it is used sometimes in very less monitored doses in cases of Intra-uterine growth restriction of the foetus.
- If used for long periods, excess of glucocorticoids may form in the blood which can lead to impaired cognitive functions in the baby. Thus best avoided in pregnancy unless benefits surpass potential risks.
- Breastfeeding women should not take above 6 grams a day.
Always consult a qualified therapist before starting the treatment.
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