Mulethi is also called Yashtimadhu in Ayurveda. It is an important herb used in Indian medicines, home remedies, folk medicines and Ayurveda. The health benefits of Mulethi include its use in hyperacidity, ulcer, general debility, joint pains and some other diseases. It is beneficial in these diseases due to its medicinal properties. It is a good anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. It also acts as antacid and aphrodisiac.

Botanical Description

Mulethi (Yashtimadhu) is botanically Glycyrrhiza Glabra that belongs to Fabaceae family (peas and legumes family). In Tamil Language, it is known as ATHIMATHURAM.  It is a herbaceous perennial plant bearing sweet roots, that are used for therapeutic purposes.

Common Names

Botanical SynonymGlycyrrhiza Glabra
English NameCultivated Licorice, Liquorice, Licorice
Hindi NameMulethi
Sanskrit NameYashtimadhu
Ayurvedic NameYashtimadhu
Also Spelled AsMULATHI, YASHTI-MADHU, YASHTI-MADHUKA, JETHI MADH

Botanical Classification (Plant Taxonomy)

KingdomPlantae
Sub-KingdomViridiplantae
Infra KingdomStreptophyta  (Land Plants)
Super DivisionEmbryophyta
DivisionTracheophyta (Tracheophytes or Vascular Plants)
Sub DivisionSpermatophytina (Spermatophytes or Seed Plants)
ClassMagnoliopsida
Super OrderRosanae
OrderFabales
FamilyFabaceae (peas & legumes)
GenusGlycyrrhiza
SpeciesGlycyrrhiza Glabra (Cultivated Licorice)

Plant Description

Type of PlantHerbaceous Perennial Plant
Native RangeIndia, Asia, Southern Europe
Height (grows up to)Grows up to 1 meter in height
Habitat (type of environment)Dry, hot and sunny climates with low annual rainfall are best for liquorice growth. However, adequate soil moisture is also necessary for its growth.
RootsStoloniferous
LeavesPinnate leaves (70 to 150 mm long) bearing 9–17 leaflets
FlowersPurple to pale whitish blue (8 to 12 mm long)
FruitsOblong pod (20 to 30 mm)
SeedsFruits contains several seeds

Medicinal Parts of Liquorice Plant

In Ayurveda, Mulethi (Yashtimadhu) roots are best for medicinal uses. It has all therapeutic properties.

Phytochemistry (Chemical Composition)

Mulethi (Yashtimadhu) contains a sweet substance and a saponin glycoside, glycyrrhizin (also known as glycyrrhizic acid). It is 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar and taste of sweetness in mouth lasts longer than sugar. On hydrolysis, glycoside converts into aglycone glycyrrhetinic acid and loses its sweetness. Yellow color of liquorice is due to Chalcone Glycoside Isoliquiritin.

Medicinal Properties

Mulethi (Yashtimadhu) has following healing properties.

  1. Antacid
  2. Anti-ulcerogenic
  3. Anti-inflammatory
  4. Anti-oxidant
  5. Anti-Alzheimer’s
  6. Anti-obesogenic
  7. Anti-adipogenic
  8. Anti-atherogenic
  9. Anticancer
  10. Anti-angiogenic (in cancer or Tumors)
  11. Anti-proliferative (in cancer or Tumors)
  12. Anti-asthmatic
  13. Antibacterial
  14. Adaptogenic
  15. Analgesic
  16. Anti-arthritic
  17. Antidepressant
  18. Antioxidant
  19. Anti-stress
  20. Antitussive
  21. Aphrodisiac
  22. Demulcent
  23. Expectorant
  24. Immuno-modulator
  25. Mild estrogenic – It might influence estrogen level in women.

Ayurvedic Properties

Taste – RASAMADHURA (Sweet)
Main Quality – GUNAGURU (Heavy) & SNIGADH or SNEHA (Unctuous or Oily)
Potency – VIRYASHEETA (Cold)
Resultant – VIPAKAMADHURA (Sweet)
Therapeutic Effect – PRABHAVARejuvenation & Supplement
DOSHA KARMA (Effect on Humors)Pacifies VATA & PITTA
Dhatu (Tissue) EffectAll – RASA, RAKTA, MAMSA, MEDAS, ASTHI, MAJJA & SHUKRA
Beneficial for OrgansStomach, Intestines, Liver, Brain, Heart & Blood Vessels

THERAPEUTIC INDICATIONS

Mulethi is helpful in following health conditions.

AllergyAllergic rhinitis or hay fever
Brain & Mind HealthDepression, emotional stress, memory loss
Digestive HealthAcidity, Chronic Gastritis, Canker sores, Constipation, duodenal ulcer, gingivitis, heartburn, indigestion, peptic ulcer, mouth ulcer, tooth decay, Ulcerative colitis, hepatitis and inflammation of gallbladder,
Heart HealthHigh Cholesterol level
HormonesAddison’s disease
Joint, Muscle & BonesArthritis, Bursitis, Fibromyalgia, Gout
Respiratory HealthCough, Asthma, Bronchitis,
Skin & HairsBaldness, Eczema, Psoriasis,

OTHERS

General IndicationsGeneral debility, Chronic Fatigue, Physical exhaustion
InfectionsAthlete’s foot, Intestinal infections, Conjunctivitis, sore throat
Women HealthMenopause, Excessive uterine bleeding,
Men HealthProstate enlargement

Mulethi (Yashtimadhu) Benefits & Medicinal Uses

The main beneficial effects of Mulethi (Yashtimadhu) are on digestive system and respiratory system. It helps in relieving gastric symptoms such as heartburn, burning sensation in the abdomen, peptic and duodenal ulcer, abdominal colic, GERD and chronic gastritis.

Mulethi contains Glycyrrhizin, which is sweet in taste and reduces inflammation of gastrointestinal tract. It benefits in following diseases related to digestive system.

Hyperacidity and Gastritis

Mulethi acts as an antacid and reduces free and total HCL levels in the stomach. It decreases acidic irritation to peptic mucosa. It is effective in acute as well as chronic gastritis. (1, 2)

In Indian Medicine, Mulethi (Yashtimadhu) is used with amla powder (Indian Gooseberry), coriander seed powder, giloy and nut grass powder for relieving gastritis and hyperacidity.

Stomach ulcers

Mulethi has anti-inflammatory effects and anti-ulcer properties. It decreases the inflammation of stomach linings. Various studies have shown its significant anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory properties.  (3, 4, 5)

It has protective effects against stomach ulcer. It reduces the chances of gastric ulceration induced by aspirin and other NSAIDs. (6, 7)

In duodenal ulcer, deglycyrrhizinized licorice (Yashtimadhu) has ulcer healing properties. It corrects the gastric mucosa and reduces ulcerations. (8)

Helicobacter pylori infection induced peptic ulcer

Mulethi extract has some flavonoids, which act as Anti-Helicobacter pylori. The flavonoids such as glabridin and glabrene found in Yashtimadhu have inhibitory effects against H. pylori. Therefore, Yashtimadhu can be used against H. pylori infection and peptic ulcer caused due to H. pylori. (9)

Aphthous ulcers or Mouth ulcers or Canker sores

Mulethi can provide 50 to 75% relief from Aphthous ulcers within one day and complete remission of ulcers within three days. (10)

Canker sores are a common type of mouth ulcers characterized by pain and tenderness. These are white or yellow in appearance surrounded by red area. Yashtimadhu water or tea reduces the pain and tenderness. Its gargle is also effective in reducing the size of canker sores.

Ulcerative colitis

Mulethi contains a Glabridin compound, which reduces colonic inflammation. It can speed up healing process in inflamed mucosa and prevent ulceration of mucosa of the intestines. (11, 12, 13)

In Ayurveda, It is used with Indian gooseberry, Bamboo Manna (vanshlochan) and Giloy satva for ulcerative colitis treatment.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Mulethi can help in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It reduces elevated liver enzymes. (14, 15)

According to Ayurveda, yashtimadhu is not a potent remedy for liver diseases, but it can help in this condition when taken with other hepatic protective herbs such as Punarnava, Bhringraj, Giloy, Patha etc.

Use of Mulethi in Cough

Mulethi is therapeutically helpful in sore throat, throat irritation, cough and bronchitis.

Yashtimadhu has expectorant properties. It also eases in coughing up the thick yellow sputum accumulated in the lungs. Due to antibacterial properties, it also reduces infection of upper respiratory tract. It reduces throat irritation and helps in chronic cough.

In Ayurveda, it is used in such conditions as follows:

Mulethi Churna2 grams
Sitopaladi powder2 grams
Honey1 tsp.

Bronchitis & Asthma

Mulethi attenuates the inflammation of bronchi and and soothes respiratory tract, thus it helps in bronchitis. Due to anti-inflammatory effects, it is effective in many inflammatory diseases including bronchitis and arthritis. It can also be beneficial in allergic asthma, according to studies. (16, 17, 18)

In asthma, it can be used with Pushkarmool powder and honey.

High cholesterol

Mulethi has potency to reduce serum cholesterol levels and hepatic cholesterol. The possible action of Yashtimadhu might be associated with conversion of cholesterol into the bile. (19, 20)

Atherosclerosis

Mulethi root or mulethi has anti-atherosclerotic characteristics. The effects can be due to reduction of serum cholesterol and plaque formation in the blood vessels. Another antioxidant property can also potentiate its effects in preventing cardiovascular diseases. (21, 22, 23)

Hormones

Mulethi is known for its effects on adrenal gland. It improves the adrenal gland functions. It can be helpful in people who take steroid drugs, because steroids suppress important adrenal gland functions and result in adrenal insufficiency. It assists adrenal gland to recover its natural functions and stimulates adrenal hormones.

Malaria

Chinese licorice roots contain a compound named as LICOCHALCONE. It inhibits the falciparum strain and its effects are similar to chloroquine. The studies have concluded that a new isolated licorice compound has potent anti-malarial properties. (24, 25)

Tuberculosis

LICOCHALCONE found in Chinese licorice roots has inhibitory effects against myco-bacterial species. However, further studies are required to investigate the results of licorice in tuberculosis, although it can help in bacterial lung infections. (26)

Sore throat

Gargle with yashtimadhu water or decoction reduces throat inflammation, irritation and pain. The studies have shown that yashtimadhu gargle reduces incidence of sore throat by 50% in post-extubation coughing and attenuates postoperative sore throat. (27, 28, 29)

In Ayurveda, mulethi root powder is used in sore throat with honey and sitopaldi churna.

High potassium levels

Some research studies conclude that there are certain compounds found in mulethi, that decrease potassium levels in the blood. Hence, it might be effective in cases of high serum potassium in people with kidney diseases and diabetes.

The main warning is that it should not used in cases with low potassium levels and high sodium levels. Otherwise, it may result in sever myopathy due to hypokalemia. (30)

Eczema

Mulethi paste, oil or gel application helps in eczema as well as inflamed and itchy skin. Some herbal creams and gel used for eczema treatment contain licorice extract. It reduces itchiness, redness and swelling. (31)

Hair fall & premature graying of hairs

In Ayurveda, Mulethi is used for preventing hair fall. It is useful orally as well as in herbal shampoos. According to Ayurveda, vitiation in PITTA and VATA humor results in hair fall and premature graying of hairs. Mulethi has effects on both these humors and helps in pacification of these aggravated humor’s activities in the body.

Blemishes and dark spots

Generally, blemishes and dark spots are found in PITTA type people or in PITTA aggravation. Mulethi with Indian gooseberry shows promising results in decreasing blemishes and dark spots. According to our experience, it can take up to 3 to 6 months for complete fading of blemishes and dark spots. However, this herbal combination is more effective in blemishes than dark spots.

Muscle cramps

Mulethi has antispasmodic and muscle relaxant characteristics. It reduces muscle cramps and tenderness in patients with fibromyalgia.

Its effects have been mainly noticed in abdominal spasm that occurs during menstruation in women, but it cannot be so potent that it can work alone, so patient may require other medications too.

It can also help preventing muscle cramps in patients on hemodialysis. (32)

Osteoarthritis

In ayurvedic medicine, Mulethi is used with Ashwagandha for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Many ayurvedic analgesic preparations contain yashtimadhu and ashwagandha as main ingredient.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

Mulethi can help patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. This action might be due to strengthening and antioxidant activities. (33)

Menopausal Hot Flashes

Studies suggest that Mulethi can decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes during menopause. It is also well acceptable and tolerable in most of the women. (34)

In Ayurveda, Yashtimadhu is used for reducing menopausal symptoms along with SARASWATARISHTA and MUKTA PISHTI.

Oligospermia

Mulethi has cooling effect on the body, according to Ayurveda. It also has great strengthening and rejuvenation effects. It is used with other herbs to boost spermatogenesis and quality of sperm.

Seminal Weakness

However, Mulethi is not recommended in people with loss of libido, but it can help in men suffering with early discharge or seminal weakness . Generally, hyper-excitement or hypersensitivity is a cause of early discharge in men. It reduces excessive excitement and thus helps in treating early discharge problems in men. Sometimes, mind plays a role in early discharge in which yashtimadhu is also effective.

Prostate hypertrophy or cancer

Mulethi is also used in prostate hypertrophy and prostate cancer, but its relevant studies are not yet available on this subject.

Abdominal fat

Mulethi contains some flavonoids, which reduce abdominal fat accumulation. The research suggests that it also has hypoglycemic effects, so mulethi can benefit in diabetes too. (35)

It can also help obese people with elevated serum cholesterol levels. We have already discussed the effects of yashtimadhu on cholesterol in heart health section above.

Mulethi Dosage & Administration

The general dosage of Mulethi Churna (Yashtimadhu Powder) is as follows.
Children250 mg to 1.5 grams *
Adults1 to 3 grams *
Maximum Possible Dosage6 grams Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice Daily with Water, Lukewarm Milk or as recommended by physician
Best Time to Take: Before Meal in abdominal diseases like gastritis, ulcer etc.

Safety Profile

Mulethi side effects occur in people with hypertension. Generally, it does not tend to raise your blood pressure if you do not have history of high blood pressure. The side effects appear mostly in cases taking high dosage of mulethi. Therefore, it may POSSIBLY be SAFE in people having no history of high blood pressure. The dosage should not exceed from 10 grams per day. You should not consume mulethi more that 4 weeks continuously.

Side Effects

Regular intake of mulethi is also not suggestible because regular intake also results in low potassium and high sodium in the body, which can cause fluid retention.

A few side effects are listed here:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Low potassium in the blood
  3. High sodium levels
  4. Bloating*
  5. Fluid retention*

*These effects are rare and occur if it is taken with milk or in unnatural form such as extract. Side effects occur only when it is taken for several months regularly.

Mulethi may increase your blood pressure, but this effect is seen only with dosage more than 10 grams per day. All studies suggesting this side effect are done with the dosage above 50 grams to 200 grams per day, which is not a therapeutic dosage. The therapeutic dosage does not exceed from 3 grams to 10 grams per day. (36, 37)

Glycyrrhetinic acid present in mulethi can result in low potassium level in the blood and thus it can cause high blood pressure. This effect occurs due to inhibition of renal 2-beta-hydroxysteroid de-hydrogenase and stimulation of mineralocorticoid receptors by the glycyrrhetinic acid. (38, 39, 40)

These effects disappear after licorice (mulethi) withdrawal within three weeks and the blood pressure reverts to normal, according to a report published in Journal of hypertension. (41)

Regular intake of mulethi causes hypermineralocorticoidism, which can result in moderate hypertension and hypertensive encephalopathy. (42)

Pregnancy

Ayurvedic science recommends using mulethi in pregnancy in case of intrauterine growth restriction. It has been used in such cases therapeutically since 2000 years in India.

However, modern science restricts its use during pregnancy. Mulethi is UNSAFE in pregnancy in higher dosage.

The heavy dosages of mulethi can cause adverse effects in pregnancy. The study on heavy dosage of glycyrrhizin (mulethi extract) concluded that it may result in preterm delivery. (43)

Another contradictory study concluded that heavy glycyrrhizin (mulethi extract) exposure did not have any significant influence on maternal blood pressure and birth weight of babies, but glycyrrhizin was significant affected the gestational age and resulted in early delivery. (44)

Maternal consumption of Yashtimadhu may affect the cognitive performance of children in later life. It may result due to the glycyrrhiza, active constituent in Yashtimadhu and overexposure to glucocorticoids. (45)

In conclusion, we suggest that you should not consume glycyrrhizin during pregnancy if other options are available and unless benefits are more over the potential risk factors.

Breastfeeding

Avoid mulethi consumption during breastfeeding above dosage 6 grams per day. Regular intake of yashtimadhu products is also restricted.

Contraindications

  1. Patients with high blood pressure or on hypertensive drugs
  2. Hypertension encephalopathy
  3. Loss of Libido
  4. Erectile dysfunction
  5. Kidney disease (unless high potassium)
  6. Hypertonia
  7. Hypokalemia (low potassium)
  8. Fluid retention
  9. Congestive heart failure

Drug Interactions

Mulethi may interact with hypertensive drugs by reducing the concentration of these drugs.

Special Precaution in Diabetes

Some research studies concluded that Mulethi might affect blood sugar level. Many studies suggested that it lowers the blood sugar level, so regular blood sugar level check up becomes necessary to adjust anti-diabetic medication dosage.


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