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J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2018 Dec;48(4):378-382. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2018.419.

Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): the journey of the sweet root from Mesopotamia to England.

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112 Polwarth Terrace, Merchiston, Edinburgh EH11 1NN, UK.


Liquorice is a very ancient plant widely used in the East for millennia. It has often been employed in sweets and confectionery and also for minor ailments including cough, constipation and dyspepsia. It was probably carried to Europe by the Cluniac order of monks. Then, almost by accident, it became established in West Yorkshire at Pontefract after the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s. Abuse of liquorice is not uncommon. It can occur in the anorexia/bulimia syndrome and also in the dangerous condition of pseudoaldosteronism, which is characterised by severe hypertension and hypokalaemia and can lead to death. Liquorice remains a useful sweetener for all sorts of confectionery, including sweets and cakes (together with beer and liqueurs).


liquorice; Glycyrrhiza; Middle East; Pontefract; confectionery; medicine


Conflict of interest statement

No conflict of interests declared

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