Mulethi or Licorice: Health Benefits, Side Effects, & Cultivation

Mulethi (Yashtimadhu/Licorice):

Mulethi is also called Yashtimadhu in Ayurveda. It is an important herb in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for therapeutic purposes. Mulethi is indigenous to parts of Europe and Asia. It is widely used as a flavoring agent to flavor candies, tobacco, and alcohol, artificial and natural sweeteners. Mulethi contains a sweet substance, it is 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar. It is beneficial for stomach, intestines, liver, brain, heart & blood vessels. Chewing mulethi sticks is an age old remedy for sore throat. It has anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant, expectorant and decongestant properties. Mulethi can be used safely for a longer period of time.



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Mulethi is a perennial long duration under shrub reaching up to 7 feet (2 m) height under favorable growing conditions in nature.


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The plant has a large creeping rhizome and branched roots, alternate leaves, and pale blue to violet flowers. It has highly developed stoloniferous roots.


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The fruit is usually an oblong pod containing several seeds. It is cultivated in Europe, Persia, Afghanistan, and Egypt and to little extent in some parts of India.



1. Boosts Immunity:

There are enzymes present in this root plant. Daily use of Mulethi defend the body against microbes, pollutants, and allergens. Use 10 grams mulethi to mix with your daily light tea.

2. Controls Cholesterol Levels:

Anti-oxidants present in licorice root regulate the quantity of fat in the blood. Drink mulethi tea: boil 10 grams of dried root in 300ml of hot water for 15 minutes to prepare this mixture.



3. Cures Cough and Cold:

You can chew muliethi sticks for a sore throat. Its expectorant and bronchodilator properties help with conditions of cough, asthma, and bronchitis. Mix ½ teaspoon ginger juice, cinnamon and mulethi powder to one cup of boiling water, add honey and drink this mixture 1-2 times a day. You can also make light tea.

4. Increases Fertility in Women:

Licorice increases chances of conception in women. It is a good remedy for menstrual cramps. Mulethi tea is recommended for those suffering from menopausal symptoms.

5. Maintains Metabolism:

Its anti-diabetic and anti-oxidant properties help treat metabolism. Mulethi helps in constipation, gastric and peptic ulcers, stomach discomfort, heartburn, acidity and other stomach problems. Drink tea made from one teaspoon mulethi & one teaspoon jiggery steeped in one cup of boiling water for 3-5 minutes.

6. Cures Skin Ailments

Mix powder Licorice with rose water for oily skin, or with milk for dry skin, to cure de-pigmentation. Mix powdered mulethi in bathing water to soothe skin rashes.


It is a very good anti-depressant, also used in anti-ageing treatments, to reduce high blood pressure, fracture healing, relieve thirst, tiredness and exhaustion by providing instant energy. It helps in food poinsioning, improve complexion, promotes hair growth and improves strength and immunity. Mulethi has therapeutic effects on eyes and improves vision.


Licorice is not suitable for everyone. It may cause some serious side-effects in certain conditions. It is unsafe to consume Licorice Extract in the following conditions:

Breast Feeding
Cardiac Ailments
Psychiatric disorder
Kidney Diseases
Hormonal Therapy


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Immediately ask for medical help when you notice any signs of allergy from Licorice. These may include difficulty in breathing, swollen throat, lips, tongue and face.

Drug Interactions:

Mulethi shows side effects if you are already consuming the certain medicines, should consult with doctor before taking Licorice Extract. Licorice can also combine with certain herbs that have an effect on the heart. It may also interact with laxatives.


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Mulethi can also have certain side effects to people who are allergic to peas or legumes. Hence it should not be consumed by them. Sometimes, excessive consumption of mulethi might also cause blurred vision or temporary loss of vision in rare cases. Potassium and sodium imbalance in the body can also be cause due to electrolyte imbalance after consuming Mulethi.


Planting & Harvesting Licorice:

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Mulethi or licorice grows perfectly in well-drained soil which is situated in the deep valleys experiencing complete sunlight. It is usually harvested in autumn, 2 to 3 years after harvesting. Mulethi is grown abundantly in Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Italy and India. Licorice roots are ready for harvest after two years of planting. The plant has an extensive root system. Roots grow 3 to 4 feet (1 – 1.2 m) deep and can extend to 25 feet (10 m) in a deep, permeable soil. It usually remains pests and diseases free.



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It prefers average temperature around 60 – 85 F (15 to 30 C). Frost, high winds or too warm temperature can damage the plant. Licorice doesn’t need fertilizer. Although, if the soil is poor, mix compost at the time of planting or mulch around the base of plant with compost. Growing licorice requires regular and abundant watering during the growing period. Regular and deep watering is required to keep the soil slightly moist all the time. In winter, watering should be reduced. Licorice should be planted in the spring or summer. In warm subtropical or tropical climate growing licorice is possible year around except peak summer.



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Growing licorice in container is also possible. Propagating licorice is easy. It can be propagated from cuttings, division or seeds.

Grow Licorice in Pot:

Choose a large pot (at least 20 cm) of a light color so that the temperature does not rise too much for the roots. Make a mixture of 1 parts sand 1 part compost and 1 part loam. In colder zones keep the pot indoors during winter.

Gautam Trehan

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