Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Liquorice Root/ Lakridsrod - a lovely Taste

Glycyrrhiza glabra

Liquorice is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a sweet flavour can be extracted. The liquorice plant is a herbaceous perennial legume native to southern Europe and parts of Asia, such as India. It is not botanically related to anise, star anise, or fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. The word liquorice is derived from the Greek (glukurrhiza), meaning "sweet root", the name provided by Dioscorides. It is usually spelled liquorice in British usage, but licorice in the United States and Canada.
The substance glyzyrrhizin is a saponine which works expectorant and cough promoting. The substance works diuretic, laxative and inflammatory. Liquorice root its effective in the stomach and the upper respiratory system.
The scent of liquorice root comes from a complex and variable combination of compounds, of which anethole is up to 3% of total volatiles. Much of the sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin, which has a sweet taste, 30–50 times the sweetness of sugar. The sweetness is very different from sugar, being less instant, tart, and lasting longe

Liquorice is cultivated in the Mediterranean, Iran, Turkey, Russia and China. Liquorice grows best in well-drained soils in deep valleys with full sun. It is harvested in the autumn two to three years after planting. Countries producing liquorice include India, Iran, Italy, Afghanistan,  China, Pakistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and England. The root is used for many things, like confectionery, liqueuers and for candies. It is also used in herbal tea.

The plant is perennial and it developes wooden-like stems. The leaves are large with a fresh green colour and the small flowers in July and September are purple or pale whitish blue with a loose inflorescence. the fruit is oblong, containing several seeds. the roots are widely branched and the offshoots can send shoots to about 8 meter from the mother plant.

When king Tutankhamons grave was opened in Egypt. the archaeologists found large amounts of dried liquorice root. Herbalists from ancient times recommended liquorice root against stomach problems and in blatter and kidney disease. Around year 200 A.C. the root is recommended against throat infections. About year 300 the Greek philosopher Theophrastos discovered that thirst could be avoided by chewing the root. The physician Henrik Harpestreng recommended it against consumptive and Linné recommended it against asthma, cough and kidney inflammation. 200 years
ago the root was used in ointments upon inflamed wounds.  Liqourice root is still written in the Pharmacopoeia.

Most liquorice is used as a flavouring agent for tobacco. American blend cigarettes made up a larger portion of worldwide tobacco consumption in earlier years, and the percentage of liquorice products used by the tobacco industry was higher in the past. Liquorice provides tobacco products with a natural sweetness and a distinctive flavour that blends readily with the natural and imitation flavouring components employed in the tobacco industry. It represses harshness and is not detectable as liquorice by the consumer. Tobacco flavourings such as liquorice also make it easier to inhale the smoke by creating bronchodilators, which open up the lungs. Chewing tobacco requires substantially higher levels of liquorice extract as emphasis on the sweet flavour appears highly desirable

Liquorice flavour is found in a wide variety of candies or sweets. In most of these candies, the taste is reinforced by aniseed oil so the actual content of liquorice is very low. Liquorice confections are primarily purchased by consumers in the European union. In the Netherlands, liquorice confectionery (drop) is one of the most popular forms of sweets. It is sold in many forms. Mixing it with mint, menthol, aniseed or laurel is quite popular. Mixing it with ammonium chloride (salmiak) is also popular. Strong, salty sweets are also popular in Nordic countries. Pontefract  in Yorkshire was the first place where liquorice mixed with sugar began to be used as a sweet in the same way it is in the modern day. Pontefract cakes were originally made there. In County Durham, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, it is colloquially known as 'Spanish', supposedly because Spanish monks grew liquorice root at Rievaulx Abbey near Thirsk.

In Italy , Spain, and France, liquorice is popular in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed, dried, and chewed as a mouth freshener. In Calabria a popular liqueur is made from pure liquorice extract. Liquorice is in Syria  and Egypt sold as a drink, in shops as well as street vendors. It is used in folk medicine in Egypt. Liquorice is used by brewers to flavour and colour porter classes of beers, and the enzymes in the root also stabilize the foam heads produced by beers brewed with it.


Glyhyrrhizin has also demonstrated antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, and blood pressure-increasing effects in vitro and in vivo, as is supported by the finding that intravenous glycyrrhizin (as if it is given orally very little of the original drug makes it into circulation) slows the progression of viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In one clinical trial liquorice demonstrated promising activity, when applied topically, against atopic dermatitis.  Additionally, liquorice may be effective in treating hyperlipidaemia (a high amount of fats in the blood). Liquorice has also demonstrated efficacy in treating inflammation-induced skin hyperpigmentaion. Liquorice may also be useful in preventing neurodegenerative disorders and dental caries. The antiulcer, laxative, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antitumour and expectorant properties of liquorice have been investigated. The compound glyhyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid), found in liquorice, has been proposed as being useful for liver protection in  tuberculosis therapy, but evidence does not support this use, which may in fact be harmful.

In traditional Chinese medicine, liquorice is believed to "harmonize" the ingredients in a formula and to carry the formula to the 12 regular meridians. Liquorice has been traditionally known and used as medicine in Ayurveda for rejuvenation.

Licorice root is used in cough medicine . The slime substances lie like a thin film over the mucosa and protect against irritation. Singers chew the sweet root in order to start the saliva production in mouth and throat.

Don't eat liquorice root for a long time since it can interfere with the sodium potassium balance.

The heart function might be unclear and the kidneys work to much with a too concentrated urine. The liquorice root might result in edema and increase the blood pressure.

Persons with a high blood pressure must not take liquorice juice without consulting a doctor.

No comments: