Botanical Name: Glycyrrhizae Radix

Gan Cao

Gan Cao

English: Licorice root

Category: Tonify the Qi

Taste: Sweet

Temperature: Neutral

Channels Entered: all 12 channels

Dosage: 1.5-9g

Key Characteristics: Tonifies the Spleen qi, moistens the Lungs, moderates urgency and toxicity, and drains fire.

Cautions and Contraindications:

  • Contraindicated in those with distention and fullness of the chest and abdomen or vomiting from overabundant dampness.

Actions and Indications:

  • Tonifies the Spleen and augments the qi: commonly used for Spleen deficiency with shortness of breath, lassitude, and loosed stools. Also for qi or blood patterns with an irregular or intermittent pulse and/or palpitations.
  • Moistens the Lungs and stops cough: for cough and wheezing. Because of its neutral properties, it can be used for either heat or cold in the Lungs and for either productive or nonproductive coughs.
  • Moderates spasms and alleviates pain: for painful spasms of the abdomen or legs. Traditionally, this effect is only seen when combined with bai shao.
  • Clears heat and resolves fire toxicity: used unprepared for carbuncles, sores, or sore throat due to fire toxin. For this purpose it can be taken internally or applied topically.
  • Also used as an antidote for a variety of toxic substances, both internally and topically.
  • Moderates and harmonizes the characteristics of other herbs: by virtue of its sweet, neutral, and moderating properties, this herb moderates hot and cold herbs. Because it is said to enter all 12 primary channels, it can lead and conduct other herbs into the channels.