Multipurpose Mulathi

Prof (Dr) R D Gupta
A medicinal plant known as Mulathi (Malathi) in Hindi, Liquorice (Licorice) in English and Yashtimadu in Sanskrit, is a well known perennial branched shrub. It is also called sweet wood or Meethi Lakari and belongs to the Leguminaceae (Papilionaceae) family with botanical name as Giycyrrhiza glabra LINN. A shrub has a number of medicinal values which are detailed hereunder along with description of the shrub.
Being  a perennial shrub, it has upright branched stem to about 1m in height bearing alternate leaves made up of 7-17 bright green leaf-lets. Its small pale blue to lilac flowers grow in spikes. It has thick woody rhizomatous roots and creeping stems. The flowers are generally borne in spring season over old bushes in axially racemes, 1cm long,blue purple in colour. The flower possesses 2-3 grey coloured and oval shaped seeds.
Mulathi is one of the most popular healing herb in Ayurvedic Medicine. It is as popular today as it was 3,000 years ago and is freely available today even at the grocer’s shops. It is a good alternative i.e, it alters the body from a diseased negative state to a healthy state. Mulathi is supposed to bestow lasting youth and is a soothing rejuvenator (Rasayan). It is demulcent, expectorant and germicide with laxative properties. Mulathi has been used with muscle problems because of anti-inflamatory anti-arthritic properties. Due to its strong sweet taste, the herb is sometimes used in recipes to mask the unpleasant taste of another herb.
Mulathi can also be used to treat skin inflammation and infections. On chewing a piece of Mulathi, it refreshes the mouth and cleanses the teeth and arrests tooth decay. It heals ulcers in the mouth. When mulathi is boiled in water, it releases its sweet taste in it. So, one can drink a warm infusion or decoction quite akin to tea. A mulathi extract hardened into various shapes becomes even more effective.
In China mulathi is used for strengthening muscle and bone, for increasing physical strength and for curing wounds. The herb stands next to Ginseng in importance in China pharmacy being great corrective adjunct and harmonizing ingredient in a large number of recipes. It is called, “great detoxifier and is thought to drive poisons (toxins) from the system’’. Many clinical studies have validated its usefulness in liver disorders, lungs and urinary bladder problems. Its decoction is given in inflammatory affections of respiratory system, bowls and asthma and dysuria. It is a tonic and laxative and is in combination with many other drugs. Mulathi is added to various laxative powders, cough syrup confections, lozenges etc.
Mulathi releases phlegm and soothens cough, eases asthma, stimulates the immune system. Mulathi can also be used to treat skin inflammation and infections. Research carried out and results published during 1980 indicated the inflammatory effects of glycyrrhizinic acid against erythema (reddening of the skin). The powder of mulathi mixed with ghee or oil can be used externally to heal wounds both septic and non septic.
The mulathi should not be taken during pregnancy. Its use is also restricted for the patients afflicted with high blood pressure. As mulathi is known to cause fluideretention and so should be sparingly used by people who have this tendency.
The spent roots after extraction are used in production of mushroom compost, insulating mill board and fire extinguishing boards.