Organic HerbsMulethi

September 8, 20210


Botanical NameGlycyrrhiza glabra Linn.

Family – Leguminosae

Common Names

English – Indian Liquorice

Hindi – Mulethi

Sanskrit – Yashtimadhu

Parts used – Stems, Roots


The plant thrives in a dry and sunny climate and is cultivated in the subtropical and warm temperate regions, chiefly in the Mediterranean region

It is reported abundant in Western China, parts of Asia Minor, Persia and Afghanistan. It is also cultivated in Punjab & Sub Himalayan tracts in India.

Chemical constituents

  • Roots contain several active compounds including Flavonoids, such as Liquirtin, Rhamnoliquirilin, Liquiritigenin, Prenyllicoflavone A, Glucoliquiritin apioside, 1-metho-xyphaseolin, Shinpterocarpin, Shinflavanone, Licopyranocoumarin, Glisoflavone, Licoarylcoumarin, and Coumarin-GU-12
  • Saponins – glycyrrhizin
  • Isoprenoid-substituted phenolic constituents (Isoangustone A, Semilicoisoflavone B, Licoriphenone, and 1-methoxyficifolinol), Kanzonol R (prenylated isoflavan derivative) and several volatile components (Pentanol, Tetramethyl pyrazine, Hexanol, Terpinen-4-ol, Linalool oxide A and B, Geraniol, and α-terpineol)
  • Glycyrrhizin, a saponin compound, as well as its Aglycone Glycyrrhetinic Acid, are the potent components in  glabra. Glycyrrhizin consists of Glycyrrhetic acid and Triterpenoid Aglycone, associated with Glucuronic acid disaccharide, and it can be found naturally as calcium and potassium salts in licorice roots

Uses of Mulethi

Effect on Respiratory System

Licorice powder and it’s extracts act as an antitussive, expectorant, and demulcent. Pharmacologically, it is used to treat bronchial cough, catarrh, and sore throat, these activities is attributed due to the presence of Glycyrrhizin, which helps relieve congestion in the upper respiratory tract by accelerating the secretion of the bronchial mucosa. Liquorice  has been shown to work as efficiently as codeine in sore throat. It decreases  irritation  and  produces  expectorant  effects. Carbenoxolone  (a  semi  synthetic  compound  derived  from Glycyrrhiza)  stimulates  gastric  mucus  secretion.  Liquorice extract is able to stimulate tracheal mucus secretions  producing  demulcent  and  expectorant  effects. Glycyrrhizin is responsible for demulcent action of liquorice. Liquiritin  apioside,  an  active  compound  present  in  the methanolic  extract  of  liquorice  which  inhibits  capsaicin induced cough.

Decoction of Mulethi (Boiling Mulethi sticks in water)  is used to cure cough and cold. It can also be used in powdered form mixed with honey to get relief from cough and sore throat.

Antioxidant activity

The phenolic content of Mulethi  is responsible for the powerful antioxidant activity, attributed this activity to flavonoids, mostly Isoflavones, such as Glabridin, Hispaglabridin A, and 30‐hydroxy‐4‐O‐methylglabridin, are the responsible compounds. Also, Licochalcones B and D present in G. glabra, shows a strong scavenging activity on DPPH radical and the ability to inhibit the microsomal lipid peroxidation. The Phenolic compounds are effective in the protection of biological systems against oxidative stress, being able to inhibit the onset of skin damages.

Anti‐inflammatory activity

The pharmacological effects showed an increase in the secretion of Serotonin and Prostaglandins in the stomach that led to a decrease of gastric inflammation. The anti‐inflammatory action is primary mediated by Glycyrrhizin, which inhibit factors responsible for inflammation as well as promote the healing of stomach and mouth ulcers. The anti‐inflammatory effects of glycyrrhizin are similar to those of glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. It is also used in renal and liver complications on the basis of its strong anti‐inflammatory effects leading to the inhibition of liver granuloma formation and the inflammatory cytokine production by glycyrrhizin.

Anti-bacterial activity 

Glycyrrhiza glabra possess antimicrobial properties particularly on Gram‐positive and Gram‐negative bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureusEscherichia coliPseudomonas aeruginosaCandida albicans, and Bacillus subtilis. The antibacterial activity observed is due to the presence of secondary metabolites, namely, Saponins, Alkaloids, and Flavonoids. In particular, Glabridin, Glabrol, Glabrene, Hispaglabridin A, Hispaglabridin B, 40‐methylglabridin, and 3‐hydroxyglabrol, isolated from G. glabra, are responsible for this activity. It showed inhibition of bacterial growth, and the reduction of bacterial toxin production.

Liquiritigenin, one of the most active compounds of liquorice, demonstrated the capacity to prevent human lung cells (A549) from α-hemolysin-mediated injuries, by decreasing α‐haemolysin production. Similarly, Glabrin and Glycyrrhetinic acid have shown antibacterial activity against S. aureus.

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