Herbs A-Z: Glycyrrhiza & Gynostemma

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Today our apothecary shelves present us with a pair of adaptogens! As we continue our series looking at the herbs we keep on hand at home, this week we encounter two particularly excellent herbs for stressed-out folks with dry constitutions.

Licorice’s botanical Latin name tells us straight out that the herb is sweet: Glycyrrhiza glabra means “smooth sweet root”. This sweetness comes together with the plant’s moistening qualities; it’s one of our sweet demulcents, like fennel. Licorice makes a great topical remedy for dry irritated skin. It has a particular affinity for the adrenal glands & cortisol metabolism, and can often help with chronic fatigue. We prefer to take it in formula rather than on its own, and this is also a good idea for safety considerations. (The herb, if taken alone and in large doses, can raise blood pressure.)

Gynostemma pentaphyllum is known also as jiaogulan; it’s one of a number of plants sometimes called “poor man’s ginseng”. It has a number of actions and constituents in common with the ginsengs. In its own right, it’s a great adaptogen for recovery – both physical and emotional – and for climbing out of depleted states. Our preferred source is Majestic Herbs, who source their organic plant material from a project in Thailand working to reduce opium production by helping farmers transition to growing jiaogulan instead.
These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.

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