Licorice root (Latin: Glycyrrhiza glabara) is known colloquially around the world by various names including Grandfather Herb, The Great Harmonizer and Sweetwood. Although it sounds like these names were developed by hippies who've enjoyed an herb of another variety, there are good sound reasons for their development!
We'll start with Grandfather Herb. The first recorded use of licorice root can be found in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Egyptians believed that in the same way that a grandfather cares for his grandchildren, licorice root eased coughs and other lung related ailments - hence the name. The Egyptians were so fond of the root that when Tutankhamen was entombed, fresh licorice root was placed near his sarcophagus in the great pyramid at Giza.
From Egypt to China and the Great Harmonizer. Traditional Chinese medicine held that a powder made by crushing dried licorice had the power to treat the spleen, liver and kidneys. Ancient practitioners believed that healthy internal organs fostered spiritual and mental harmony, a belief that again resulted in the colloquial name.
From China then to Woodstock and the final name, Sweetwood. OK, we made up the Woodstock part - but all the information we came across did indicate that this name was probably developed by Hippies. This one is pretty straightforward - licorice is a sweetly flavored herb. The sweetness is due to the fact that the root contains up to 14% naturally occurring sugars.
Whichever name you decide to go with, we're quite sure that you'll find that a nice hot cup of brewed licorice will put a smile on your face. Do yourself a favor and try some today. (For a unique twist, try blending Licorice Root with other herbal, black, or green teas, the results are fantastic!)
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