Where does licorice come from and what is it used for?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Licorice is a plant found in Europe and Asia the root of which has been used for medicinal and food purposes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “for thousands of years.”  While most licorice purchased in stores today are artificial versions, comprised primarily of anise oil, actual licorice derived from the plant root has long been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, especially for digestive problems like acid-reflux disease, peptic ulcers, gastritis and irritable bowel.  Additional health problems for which licorice has been used include liver disorders and oral canker sores.  While the latter two uses of licorice are questionable, many people with serious intestinal and stomach disorders attest to licorice’s positive impact on their conditions.Evidence that licorice, for better or worse, does have an influence on the function of the human body is the warning that the real substance, which is characterized by the active chemical glycyrrhiza, can adversely interact with prescription medications.  As noted, most licorice purchased in stores is not real licorice, but is manufactured using wheat glucose syrup, wheat flour, sugar, and artificial flavorings.  That said, real licorice is not difficult to find.

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