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Licorice or Scythian Root in the Process of Globalization

Nikolas is interested in the local moments of the world globalization and the role of English in it.

Licorice on the Coast of the Sea of Azov



Scythian Root

Licorice root is one of the oldest medicines. Juncirus, or hai tao , "sweet herb" , was valued by Chinese and Tibetan physicians almost as much as the legendary root of life, ginseng. Licorice roots are frequently mentioned in the ancient medical encyclopedia, the Ebers papyrus. It was used by the Sumerians and by the ancient peoples of India and Tibet. In the 6th century B.C. on the northern coast of the Black Sea, the Greek colonial cities bought from the Scythians in large quantities the sweet, so-called "Scythian root".

Theophrastus also described it as "Scythian root" from the Sea of Azov. Such ancient authorities of medicine as Hippocrates and Galen used it extensively in their practice. Dioscorides described a dry extract of the root, licorice. Beginning with Homer, licorice is mentioned in all European medical writings.

For Six Senses

According to the Jude-shi, a manual of Tibetan medicine, licorice preparations "provide a blooming appearance" and "promote longevity by acting positively on six senses of man". With the Scythians, licorice root was very widely used, especially as a cure for colds, stomach ailments, for many children's and women's illnesses, and was used to preserve beauty and youth. The sweet root was used to quench thirst and hunger. Licorice was developed in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Spain, and Italy.

Licorice Factories

  • The homeland of liсorice candy is considered to be England, the county of West Yorkshire, the city of Pontefract. How licorice got there is unknown. The plant may have been brought to England by crusaders or Dominican monks who settled there in the 14th century. The climate in Yorkshire was too cold and licorice did not flower there, but it formed roots and rhizomes. Within a few decades all the surrounding fields were overgrown with it.
  • By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the town had established the production of small cakes of licorice extract, which were taken as medicine. In 1760 the local apothecary George Dunhill mixed diluted licorice root extract with sugar and obtained small disc-shaped medicinal lollipops - a remedy for coughs, colds and to relieve stomach aches. But the lollipops contained sugar, and Dunhill called them sweets. They quickly became popular, and soon licorice factories were operating at full capacity. By the end of the nineteenth century the local supply of licorice was exhausted, the last crop in Pontefract being harvested in the late 1960s. Now licorice is imported from Spain.

Ingredients of Licorice Candy

In addition to licorice root extract and sugar, other ingredients are included to licorice candies: glucose syrup, thickeners (flour, gelatin or starch) and molasses. Licorice candies have a variety of flavorings, including mint, anise and bay leaf, coconut and other fillers. There are also salted licorice candies. Ammonium chloride is most often added to them, which gives licorice a peculiar astringent taste and causes numbness of the tongue. Sometimes licorice is salted with sodium chloride. Salted licorice is used to flavor alcoholic beverages. However, even ordinary licorice candy often contains up to 2 percent ammonium chloride, the taste of which is insensible due to the high concentration of sugar.

Finns and Licorice

  • Why Finns love licorice
  • Few people who try Finnish black candy for the first time are thrilled. It is very unusual. Over time, however, many begin to appreciate their original taste.
  • This candy consists of wheat flour, water, sugar, syrup, charcoal, and most importantly, licorice.
  • Licorice is a plant that is called lakritsi in Finnish. Moreover, the Finns also assure that these candies perfectly clean the teeth.
  • Licorice is so popular in Finland that they make licorice cakes, pies, ice cream, liqueurs and even licorice vodka on its basis. Licorice is a popular souvenir brought back from Suomi.
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Candy From Licorice in Finland

Countries where licorice growsIngridients of roots and rhizomesCuring actions


20-23% glycyrrhizin

expectorant, soothing, analgesic,


triterpene saponin, flavonoids (3-4%) liquiritin, liquiritoside, liquiritigenin (4,7-dioxaflavone)

antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic


mono- and disaccharides (up to 20%), yellow pigment, trace elements (potassium, magnesium, calcium), vitamin C and asparagine.

vasodilator, antiatherosclerotic, antihypoxant,


pectin substances (4-6%), resinous substances (2-4%), lipids (3-4%), and bitter substances (2-4%), traces of essential oil.

diuretic, coagulation, laxative


reparative, sedative, secretolytic


diaphoretic, tonic, immunomodulatory, desensitizing


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who described licorice as Scythian Root?
    • Theophrastus
    • Hippocratus
    • Dioscorides
  2. Where is the homeland of candy?
    • London
    • West Yorkshire
    • Blackpool
  3. What color is Finnish candy?
    • It is white
    • It is yellow
    • It is black

Answer Key

  1. Theophrastus
  2. West Yorkshire
  3. It is black

Licorice: Roots ad Rhizomes




Omar, Hesham R; Komarova, Irina; El-Ghonemi, Mohamed; Ahmed, Fathy; Rashad, Rania; Abdelmalak, Hany D; Yerramadha, Muralidhar Reddy; Ali, Yaseen; Camporesi, Enrico M. How much is too much? in Licorice abuse: time to send a warning message from Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism // Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab : journal. — 2012. — Vol. 3, no. 4. — P. 125—138. — doi:10.1177/2042018812454322. — PMID 23185686

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