230. Glycyrrhiza.—Glycyrrhiza. Licorice Root.

Botanical name: 

Fig. 120. Glycyrrhiza glabra. Fig. 121. Glycyrrhiza - Cross-section of root. The dried rhizome and root of Glycyrrhi'za gla'bra typica Regel et Herder, and Glycyrrhiza glabra glandulif'era Regel et Herder. Spanish and Russian respectively.

BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—Plants 4 to 5 feet high. Leaves impairipinnate; leaflets about 13, oval. Racemes axillary, flowers distinct, pale blue. Legume ovate, compressed.

SOURCE.—Russia exports the largest amount, Syria the smallest. Partiality for the Spanish root is now unwarranted; the dose digging, and the limited and practically exhausted fields of Spain are the causes of its deterioration. Russia, with its new and almost unlimited fields, furnishes roots rich in glycyrrhizin and extractive, much better suited for commercial purposes because better and cheaper than the Spanish root. Anatolian root ranks between the Spanish and Russian in the quality of sweetness. In commerce no attention is paid to the botanical varieties of licorice root. From the root alone it is quite impossible to determine its true botanical origin, the usual designation being from the countries of growth, as Spanish, Russian, Anatolian, etc., although all varieties except the Spanish are often classified as "Greek root." Peeled root may now be prepared in Russia, but Syria formerly prepared it for shipment to Europe, some of which found its way into the market as "peeled Russian."

DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—Long, cylindrical pieces from 5 to 25 mm. (⅕ to 1 in.) in diameter; externally dark-brown, longitudinally wrinkled; internally of a light-yellow color; pliable, fibrous, tough, readily tearing into long, fibrous strips. Odor peculiar, earthy, taste sweetish, afterward acrid. A cross-section shows a rather thick bark, the inner layer of which is composed principally of bast fibers. The meditullium is made up of three kinds of cells, ligneous, with oblique ends, parenchymatous, almost cubical, and large pitted ducts giving to the wood a porous appearance. Wood-wedges narrow, separated by distinct medullary rays.

Glycyrrhizal glabra glandulifera, so-called Russian, is thicker, less sweet, and more acrid than G. glabra typica (Spanish).

Powder.—Characteristic elements; See Part iv, Chap. I, B.

CONSTITUENTS.—Glycyrrhizin, asparagin, glycyramarin, an acrid resin, starch, etc. Glycyrrhizin is a glucosid, sparingly soluble in alcohol and ether, splitting up by hydrolysis into sugar and a brownishyellow bitter substance, glycyrrhetin; it probably exists in combination with ammonia. Ash, not to exceed 7 per cent.

Preparation of Glycyrrhizin.—Obtained from the cold infusion (from which albumen has been removed by heat) by precipitating with H2SO4. Purify precipitate by dissolving in very weak ammonia water 1 to 10, filtering, and evaporating.

ACTION AND USES.—Expectorant and demulcent in bronchial affections. Frequently used to disguise the disagreeable taste of other medicines, and as a sweetening ingredient for medicinal preparations. Dose: 15 to 60 gr. (1 to 4 Gm.).

Fluidextractum Glycyrrhizae, Dose: 15 to 60 <minim> (1 to 4 mils).
Extractum Glycyrrhizae Purum, 5 to 60 gr. (0.3 to 4 Gm.).
Mistura Glycyrrhizae Composita (3 per cent. of extract, with wine of antimony, paregoric, sweet spirits of niter, syrup, and mucilage of acacia), 2 to 6 fl. dr. (8 to 24 mils).
Glycyrrhizinum Ammoniatum, 5 to 15 gr. (0.3 to 1 Gm.).
Pulvis Glycyrrhizae Compositus (23.6 per cent., with senna, washed sulphur, oil of fennel, and sugar), ½ to 2 dr. (2 to 8 Gm.).
Elixir Glycyrrhizae.

230a. EXTRACTUM GLYCYRRHIZAE.—Extract of Licorice. Made by evaporating the aqueous extract of the root. It is found in market in black, brittle, cylindrical rolls about 150 mm. (6 in.) long; flexible when warm, but when dry breaks with a brittle, conchoidal fracture, showing a glossy surface; odor characteristic; taste sweet., It yields a brown powder. It contains glycyrrhizin, both free and combined with ammonia, to which combination its sweetness is due, glycyrrhizin itself being almost tasteless. It is an excellent demulcent, the presence of a small piece in the mouth often allaying cough by coating and thus protecting the irritated membrane. Not less than 60 per cent. of the extract of glycyrrhiza should be soluble in cold water. Dose: 15 to 60 gr. (1 to 4 Gm.). Ash, not more than 6 per cent.


Trochisci Ammonii Chloridi (each troche containing about 3 grains each of glycyrrhiza and 1 ½ of ammonium chloride, with sugar, tragacanth, and syrup of tolu), Dose: 1 or 2 troches.
Trochisci Cubebae.

A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.