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  • Writer's pictureTracyann Thomas

Cough Cure with Licorice Root

Known as Yashtimadu in Sanskrit meaning “sweet root”, licorice has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. It is treasured for its demulcent quality providing sweet, cooling support for the respiratory and digestive system, balancing out the moisture in the mucous membranes. It’s also a great expectorant as it liquifies and expels mucus from the lungs, making it very helpful for asthma, bronchitis, and wheezing. Licorice is also considered a strong adrenal tonic with its ability to influence cortisol production, providing strength to the immune system and nourishment to the nervous system.

Licorice is a Rasayana, which means it restores vital life force and provides deep nourishment to all the cells in the body. It is also tridoshic, meaning it balances all doshas, but will aggravate Kapha in excess.

The latter half of Winter and all of Spring bring the opportunity for us to acquire more Kapha dosha in our stomach and lungs, and with it can come some digestive woes and episodes of coughing and wheezing. The increased Kapha (think mucus) can smother our digestive fire and block the natural flow of air which can trigger a spasm in the bronchial tree.

Here is a soothing and very warming natural remedy for an acute wheezing or coughing attack that will also tend to your digestive fire. This recipe uses dried ginger which is HOT! Fresh ginger is less intense, so if there is high pitta, I recommend using fresh ginger and steeping it with the other herbs, then strain. The goal in this Ayurvedic treatment is to bring the Kapha that is stuck in the lungs and bronchi back to the stomach, and from there it can be eliminated.

Cough Cure

1 tsp licorice root

½ tsp peppermint leaf

(if using fresh ginger, add it here) 1 tsp fresh grated ginger

Steep in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes, strain.

If using dried ginger, stir in 1/4 tsp after straining.

Let sit and cool down for 5 minutes.

Add honey.

Sip slowly.

This tea will help loosen and remove Kapha relieving the spasm of the bronchial tubes and warm you up from the inside out stoking your digestive fire.

Note: Licorice is contraindicated for those with hypertension or those taking potassium-depleting drugs. Licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizic acid, which can decrease potassium levels and can exacerbate high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor before taking licorice tea.

Always best to use the whole plant versus a supplement that usually contains high extractions of plant compounds. Nature unadulterated is always more biocompatible with the body.

Licorice’s popularity has unfortunately caused it to be overharvested. Please make sure you buy yours from a sustainably cultivated source.

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