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Licorice is awarded as medicinal plant of the year 2012
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza) has been named "Medicinal Plant of the Year 2012". The medicinal plant, which has been used for thousands of years to treat various diseases such as cough, hoarseness or gastric gene complaints, was selected for the award by a team of scientists from the University of Würzburg and experts from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) environmental foundation.
The licorice, which now has the distinctive licorice taste of the medicinal plant of the year, has been used for more than 3,000 years in the context of phytotherapy (herbal medicine), whereby the tea made from the grated roots of the licorice in particular can be shown to have a positive effect on various diseases. For example, licorice tea is still a popular home remedy for hoarseness and cough. But tea can also develop extremely positively in gastric ulcers.
Licorice has been known as a medicinal plant for millennia As Johannes Mayer from the “Study History of the History of Medicinal Plants” in Frankfurt explained, liquorice has been known as a medicinal plant for millennia, the positive effect of which against numerous complaints has been clearly scientifically proven today. Mayer was particularly impressed by the healing properties of a tea made from liquorice and thyme for colds. "For me, the best there is," says the expert. The positive effect of the medicinal plant, which is also used as the main component of licorice, also demonstrably helps against hoarseness and stomach ulcers, Mayer explained. In addition, licorice as a medicinal plant in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the standard remedies for numerous health complaints. The up to one meter high licorice perennials, which belong to the genus Butterfly Blossoms, are common as a wild plant in the Mediterranean, Asia Minor and the Caucasus as far as Iran, Central Asia, southern Russia and China, the expert explained. However, the heat-loving plant can also be found on the Upper Rhine and has been grown near Bamberg for around 500 years, explained Johannes Mayer. According to the expert, only the dried roots of the licorice perennials are used in herbal medicine, which has more than 400 different ingredients. Among them is glycyrrhizin, which according to Johannes Mayer is almost 50 times as sweet as cane sugar.
Sustainable extraction of the medicinal plant required For the extraction of the licorice, the experts from the University of Würzburg and the WWF explained that a large part of the roots used as medicinal products or processed into liquorice are collected wildly. The natural occurrence is a clear advantage, since no fertilizers or pesticides are used here. "So I have pure organic goods," emphasized Johannes Mayer. However, collecting in nature is not entirely uncontroversial, because the great demand for licorice roots has already led to overuse in some regions, explained Susanne Honnef, an expert at WWF. The required quantities sometimes limit the possibilities of natural reproduction to their limits. Germany alone imports more than 500 tons of liquorice a year. The WWF is therefore committed to a sustainable harvest, in which certain standards have to be met in order not to endanger the licorice stock in the long term. The aim must be to enable the use of the plant and at the same time to maintain the stocks, explained Susanne Honnef. For this purpose, the “FairWild” certificate was set up, which is not yet noted on German products, however, Honnef continues. According to the WWF expert, around 15,000 of the approximately 60,000 medicinal plants worldwide are endangered.
Make pharmacy known to nature According to Johannes Mayer, the choice of medicinal plant of the year by the Würzburg study group, which has been taking place every year since 1999, serves primarily to make the “pharmacy of nature” known. The expert panel that makes the selection includes medical historians, doctors, pharmacists and biologists, who not only pay attention to the healing properties of the selected plants when awarding them, but also generally evaluate the cultural and medical history of the plants. In 2011, the passion flower was the medicinal plant of the year. (fp)
Herbal tea prevents colds
Picture: Erin Silversmith