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History (Continued)

To back up the value of liquorice, it was reported that a tax was placed on liquorice imports

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to aid in repairing London Bridge during the reign of Edward I in 1305. In about the middle of the fifteenth century, Liquorice was named among the wares kept by the Italian apothecaries and it is enumerated in the list of drugs of the City of Frankfurt, written about the year 1450. It was not only important medicinally, but was used as a flavoring agent in sweets and tobacco, and as a foaming agent in fire extinguishers and beers, and used in isolated millboard.

Liquorice is imported chiefly from Spain and Italy, the warmer more temperate countries, but cultivation has existed on a small scale in England. Dominican friars introduced liquorice to England by bringing it to Yorkshire Dales around the 15th century, where it became famous as an ingredient in Pontefract cakes. In Turner’s herbal we learn that the planting and growing of liquorice in England began about the first year of Queen Elizabeth, which was in 1558. Culpepper stated, “It is planted in fields and gardens, in diverse places of this land and therefore good profit is made.” In the 1800’s Culpepper included information about Liquorice in his famous herbal writings. Southern Europeans drank large amounts of Liquorice water (tea) because they believed it to be a blood purifier.

It was the English who introduced the herb to the American Indians, which is strange because it was usually the other way around. John Josselyn of Boston in the sixteenth century lists Liquorice as one of the “precious herbs” he brought over from England. He would brew a beer for the Indians when they had a bad cold. It was strongly flavored with elecampane, Liquorice, aniseed, sassafras and fennel.

Liquorice is official in all pharmacopoeias, which only differ as to which variety is recognized, the botanical name, and whether the accepted root be peeled or unpeeled.

If we look at the use of liquorice from a western perspective, we see that its use has changed little over 3,000 years. It is considered demulcent (soothing to irritated membranes), expectorant (loosening and helping to expel congestion in the upper respiratory tract), and stimulates mucous secretions of the trachea. Other well-documented activities include significant anti-inflammatory effects, a protectant effect on the liver against toxic substances and anti-allergic activity.

 

 

 

 

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