Meet one of my favorite and frequently used herbs of Chinese traditional medicine - Gan Cao
Gang Cao (甘草) or licorice root (sweet herb) is an important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is believed to enrich qi, stimulate the stomach and spleen, moisturize the lungs, cleanse mucus, heat and toxins, and relieve spasms and pain. It is also used for palpitations, spontaneous sweating, fatigue, poor appetite, and loose stools.
A Chinese tale tells how one day a herbalist left home to tour his area. This journey often took weeks. In the meantime, patients continued to knock on him for medicinal herbs. So his wife came up with a way to treat them. Knowing little about spices, she tasted her husband's supplies: sour herbs, bitter herbs, salty herbs, pungent herbs, and sweet herbs. She thought that most people would prefer sweet-tasting spices, so she chose one, to give to everyone who knocks. Thus, the sweet herb has given good results. So much so that the situation has improved significantly.
When her husband finally returned, he researched this herb more fully and found it to be most effective in treating conditions associated with low energy, coughs, pain and fatigue.
You guessed it, we are talking about the "sweet herb" of licorice.
In the confectionery industry, licorice extracts are mixed with sugar, corn syrup and flour to make licorice candies. It is also used as a sweetener or flavoring agent to counteract the unpleasant taste of herbal mixtures, or as a filler in capsules to mask the bitterness of other herbs.
Licorice has been used as a flavoring agent for centuries, but many people are unaware of its beneficial medicinal properties. Researchers like the US National Cancer Institute are increasingly beginning to study its various potential medicinal properties. From its effectiveness to suppressing inflammation to its ability to soothe indigestion and control coughs.
Over time, stress can also drain the adrenal glands, producing consistently high levels of adrenaline and cortisol. Licorice can stimulate the adrenal glands to help maintain healthy cortisol levels in the body. Licorice contains a wide range of natural vitamins E, B complex, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, lecithin, manganese and other trace elements.
And here in the last photo is another variety of Gan Cao - Zhi Gan Cao - it is licorice root fried in honey.
This variety of Gan Cao enhances the flow of chi in the heart, replenishes the chi in the body. It is used for weak heart, palpitations and shortness of breath.