LICORICE ROOT: Research in the treatment of respiratory infections

Licorice root has a long history of use in Chinese medicine. Glycyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid or glycyrrhizinic acid), the chief sweet-tasting constituent of Glycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice) root.has been studied.for use in the treatment of COVID-19 and the associated respiratory syndrome.1 Glycyrrhizin augments natural killer cell activity and
induces interferon production by T cells.5

A ‘must have’ home apothecary stock item, I use the steeped root tea for its varied medicinal properties. Licorice has well-documented antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. 2 “The anti-inflammatory activity of GLR could be useful to alleviate the respiratory distress syndrome associated to the viral infection”.3 “In addition to the antiviral effects of GL reported on hepatitis C, many other viruses that cause human suffering have been successfully treated, including: herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), the “cold sore” virus; varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the cause of shingles; hepatitis A virus (HAV); hepatitis B virus (HBV); human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), coronavirus; Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), human cytomegalovirus (CMV) and influenza virus”4

Maintaining a well stocked home apothecary of research supported medicinal plants can provide you with supports during life’s health challenges and when other solutions may not be readily available or compatible.

Make sure your source for licorice root comes from a location where air pollution is not a factor. Roasted licorice root may not provide you with the desired medicinal benefits due to roasting. Steep the roots in a small amount of very warm, not boiling water to cover, for 30 minutes. Drink as a tonic (is may not suit your palette) or add a favourite favoured tea. As with all medicinal herbs, use occasionally in moderate quantities and check with your regular healthcare provider and pharmacist to determine any contraindications due to health challenges or medications.

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design,


  1. Pharmacological perspective: glycyrrhizin may be an efficacious therapeutic agent for COVID-19, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health,
  2. Licorice Root: Potent Antiviral, Antimicrobial and Antifungal, Botanical Medicine,
  3. Glycyrrhizin: An alternative drug for the treatment of COVID-19 infection and the associated respiratory syndrome, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health,
  4. Antiviral Activity of Glycyrrhizin against Hepatitis C Virus In Vitro, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health,
  5. Glycyrrhizin, an Active Component of Licorice Roots, Reduces Morbidity and Mortality of Mice Infected with Lethal Doses of Influenza Virus, ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY, Mar. 1997,

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