Sunday, December 10, 2023

Liquorice in Ancient Times

Liquorice is sourced from the roots of the Glycyrrhiza Glabra plant, with its historical usage tracing back to prehistoric times in Europe, particularly well-documented among ancient Greeks. The plant's botanical name, derived from Greek words meaning "sweet root," underscores the recognition of liquorice's natural medicinal attributes across various ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Hindus.

Greek historian Herodotus lauded the Scythians for their military prowess, horsemanship, and efficiency in cavalry, noting their ability to endure prolonged thirst by consuming liquorice root and mare's milk.

Theophrastus, a Greek botanist of the IV–III century BC, chronicled the early medicinal use of liquorice in Europe and speculated that the Greeks might have acquired knowledge of its pharmacological properties from the Scythians, who inhabited the region north and east of Greece.

In the first century AD, ancient Greek physician and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides featured liquorice among the medicinal substances in his influential work, De Materia Medica. This compilation, encompassing approximately 650 plant-based remedies, served as a standard reference for over a millennium.

Throughout ancient Roman times, liquorice retained its status as a well-known remedy, as attested by Roman authors like Aulus Cornelius Celsus, Scribonius Largus, Claudius Galen, Marcellus Empiricus, and Cassius Felix. Pliny the Elder, in the first century B.C., detailed various functions of licorice root, asserting its efficacy in lozenge form for voice clearing and delaying hunger and thirst. Romans even integrated liquorice into their military routines, with troops chewing the root as a medicinal stick while marching, recognizing its thirst-quenching properties.
Liquorice in Ancient Times