Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae) Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae) Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae)

Gan Cao

Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae) is from the root of Glycyrrhiza uraleusis or G. grabra, family Leguminosae. The medicinal material is usually harvested in the autumn. The roots are cleaned, sliced and then dired. It is commonly used in its raw form or after being roasted with honey.

Category: Tonifying – Qi Tonifying.

Common Name: Liquorice Root.

Channels Entered: Heart, Lung, Spleen and Stomach.

Properties and Functions: Gan Cao is sweet in flavour and mild in nature. Its functions are:

  • To enrich Qi and invigorate the Stomach and Spleen.
  • Moisten and nourish the Lung to stop coughing.
  • Clears Heat and eliminates toxins.
  • Relieves spasms and alleviates pain.
  • Works to harmonise and guide other herbs in formulas.

Indications: Its use is clinically indicated for the following:

  • Syndromes of Heart-Qi deficiency manifesting as palpitation, spontaneous sweating and a knotted or slow-intermittent pulse.
  • Syndromes of Spleen-Qi deficiency manifesting as fatigue, poor appetite and/or loose stool.
  • Coughs and shortness of breath – It acts to moisten and nourish the Lung and resolve Phlegm.
  • Spasms and epigastric pain of the abodomen and limbs.
  • When used in a herbal prescription, it has the other function of decreasing or regulating the medicinal side-effects or toxitcity of the other herbs in a given formula.

Dosage: 2 – 10g. The raw form is traditionally used for clearing or purging, while the honey-roasted form is used of tonifying and nourishing.

Cautions and Contra-Indications: Contra-indicated in cases of epigastric fullness with vomiting or oedema due to excessive dampness. Use over a long duration and/or in large quantities should be avoided to prevent onset of oedema. It is incompatible with Daji, Gansui and Yuanhua.