There are many historical references to the use of bitter vetch, not only for flavouring but also for warding off hunger and thirst, preventing drunkenness and even stimulating the mind.

There are references to the plant being an important part of the diet of Cateran Warriors and eating the tubers enabled them to ward off hunger and thirst for a ling time. J Lightfott, in Flora Scotica (1711) wrote; “They have a sweet taste, sorting like the roots of liquorice, and wet boiled we are told, are well flavour’d and nutritive, and in times of scarcity have serv’d as a substitute for bread.”