Licorice (also known as Mulethi) is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a sweet flavor can be extracted. The licorice plant is a herbaceous perennial legume native to the Middle East, southern Europe, and India. Licorice flavors are used as candies or sweeteners, particularly in some European and Middle Eastern countries.
Licorice, also called Yashtimadhu in Ayurvedic medicine, is an important herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, home remedies, and folk medicines. The alleged health benefits of licorice include its use in hyperacidity, ulcer, general debility, joint pains, and various other ailments. In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice is known as "gancao" (甘草, literally "sweetgrass"), and is believed to "harmonize" the ingredients in a formula.
Licorice flavor is found in a wide variety of candies or sweets. In most of these candies, the taste is reinforced by aniseed oil so the actual content of licorice is very low. Licorice confections are primarily purchased by consumers in Europe but are also popular in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
Dried sticks of the licorice root are also a traditional confectionery in their own right in the Netherlands where were sold simply as sticks of zoethout ('sweet wood') to chew on as a candy. Through chewing and suckling, the intensely sweet flavor is released. The sweetness is 30 to 50 times as strong as sucrose, without causing damage to teeth.