Monday, April 20, 2009

Chinese Licorice - Kan Chou (Liver Plant)

I have lots of these Chinese licorice growing in my garden. They appeared all of a sudden some time ago so it is considered wild. But as time goes by I would throw the seeds around and I get fairly good batches of them . Relatives would come around to harvest them perhaps five plants at a time when they like brewing a soup.

The fresh plants are cleaned and dried in the sun roots and all included. And then cut into smaller pieces for boiling of soup with a bit of pork or chicken. No salt or any other flavours is permissible. A clay pot or a Chinese medicine pot is best for brewing the soup.

I normally cook my own brew whenever I have too many nightmares which are indicative of an overheated liver. However in order to be cautious I do not often take the brew. Probably once or twice a year when needed. I was told that when SARS was wreaking havoc in Sarawak very little Chinese licorice was left standing on any ground!! It was sold at more than RM10 a kilo in its dried form.

If you do not trust the real plants growing in the garden then you can always get a few hundred grams from the Chinese drug stores. Simply ask for Kan Chou and the Chinese Sin Seh will give you a good measure and some complementary bits and pieces to make you a good potion for your ailment!

Chinese Licorice root stands next to ginseng in importance in Chinese herbalism. It is one of the most widely used of all Chinese herbs. Laboratory tests in China have demonstrated that the extracts of Chinese Licorice can help eliminate or detoxify over 1,200 known toxins. It is believed to drive out all poisons and toxins from the system and to eliminate side effects from other herbs used with it. It is also effective in relieving the intoxication due to bad foods, drugs and alcohol. Thus the Chinese calls it the 'great detoxifier' and the 'great adjunct'.

Chinese Licorice is said to help revitalize impaired stomach energy. It helps supplement the energy and strikes a balance between the internal regions of the body. It is a tonic to the spleen and kidneys and helps regulate stomach functions. Chinese Licorice acts as a blood tonic through its positive effects on the kidneys (bone marrow) and spleen. It sedates and soothes excess fire and helps moisten the lungs and throat.

Chinese Licorice is used throughout the orient simply because of its ability to build and sustain energy. It is now known that this is at least partly due to its remarkable power to regulate blood sugar balance, sharpen the power of concentration, relieve abdominal pain and congestion, benefits the functions of the abdominal organs, clear the meridians and allow chi to flow smoothly. In addition Chinese Licorice helps build muscle growth, beautifies the countenance, fortifies the sinews and bones, cures swollen wounds caused by straining or incisive injury, detoxifies the blood and relieves pain and tension due to stress. It has been used successfully for a thousand years in cases of anorexia, which is now a growing health concern in the West.

Chinese Licorice root is obviously quite highly regarded by those who know and use this most remarkable of Chinese tonic herbs. When used over a long period of time, Chinese Licorice root is said to produce radiant health and prolong life.

Note - Chinese Licorice root is a very different herb from the Western variety of licorice (glycyrrhizae glabra). The Western variety can cause nervousness, an obviously undesirable side-effects when use regularly. To the contrary, Chinese Licorice, (glycyrrhizae uralensis) is energizing but calming and does not have the side-effects associated with Western Licorice. Be sure to use Chinese Licorice root, which is also called gan cao, for all of its wonderful health benefits.

Note - Nothing within these pages should be construed as medical advice. All information on these pages is intended for educational use only. Nothing herein is intended to diagnose, treat or cure any specific disease. Please consult your health care provider if you have a serious condition.
Source :

Many Foochows grow some of these plants in their garden plots. But in Miri I see them along the spare land between houses and every other possible grounds.)

12 memories:

bliss said...

My aunties always boil the leaves for tea! And they let us drink as buang panas . Very effective. May be as you wrote - very few nightmares!
Nice article.

Superman said...

I think hakka called it "Prince medicine" if I am not mistaken. They cut the roots and dry it under the sun then boiled it with chicken. The soup is good for health.

sarawakiana said...

Although we foochows have always been using just the stalks and the roots in particular many housewives have indeed started to use the leaves for soup!

sarawakiana said...

Superman thanks for visiting.
\I understand it is now a very commercialised product in China and perhaps even the world.

Ketam said...

I saw this plant at my Bau's home, remembered it well as it has a pod of peas. Thanks for the info!

sarawakiana said...

Hi Ketam How are you?
It is good to spread good info around.
Have a good week ahead!

chung said...

When we were young my grandmother and mother always made us pick this plant and I had to chop the roots - which were very hard to chop and dry them in the sun.

We never had the leaves in soup. Wonder why?

Just a Little Kindness said...

If I am not mistaken this is also part of the bak kut teh?
Please enlighten me.

sarawakiana said...

Chung - I think only the people in Miri and outside Sibu would take the leaves and cook them for soup. The dried leaves make a good tea. But when I was in Sibu I never heard of such things either. Only the stalks and roots have been used in our family.

sarawakiana said...

JALK - If I am not mistaken licorice is used in Pak Tin or 9 treasure soup. Bak Kut Teh does not have the Chinese herbs. Just spices like cinnamon star anise and cloves etc.
If still not too sure consult a traditional Chinese Medicine man when you next want to boil any of these two soups.
Give it a try. Each claim their own strengths.

sarawakiana said...

ooops typo above - 8(pak) treasures (tin) soup.

Kong Wei Sheng said...

do you got the seed? can i brought it from you?


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