Sunday, October 18, 2009

The good, the bad and the weird.

Plants have a long history in medicine - well, in pre-antibiotic medicine. Modern medicine sniffs at such things. If it's not a pill in a bottle, it can't be effective, they say.

Well, the use of mouldy bread poultices to prevent wound infections goes back a long way. Long before the dicovery of penicillin, an antibiotic produced by mould. This discovery was made by accident, by observing the prevention of bacterial growth around a mould on a laboratory Petri dish. It was not discovered by a scientist wondering why his granny used to strap wet mouldy bread to his cuts. The mouldy bread poultice was an old wives' tale and not worthy of the attention of science. Scientific arrogance is not a new phenomenon.

Pity. We could have had antibiotics a lot sooner if scientists had listened to their grannies.

Nowadays, there are scientists looking for plants that might produce potential cures for all sorts of diseases. Still, these scientists are keen not to appear to be herbalists. Instead of using the plant, they take an effective molecule and make synthetic copies of it. Then put it in a pill.

There are many plants that are useful for general ailments. Here are some of the good ones. There are many more. Ask Granny, or these days, perhaps Great-Granny.

You do need to be careful because there are also plants that can kill you very quickly if you eat even a small part of them. So here are some of the bad ones. Some of them are rare, some are common, so watch what you're using for that herbal tea!

And, just because it's interesting, here are some of the weird ones. Not necessarily toxic or medicinal, just very strange.

Plants don't do much. They just sit there being green and are easily ignored. Perhaps we should pay more attention to them.


Astrology said...

You have to stop doing that! Whenever you post these interesting links, they lead to more links that I just have to see, and before I know it, the whole night is gone.

The list of unassuming yet lethal plants left out my top three favorites: Foxglove a/k/a Digitalis; Delphinium a/k/a Larkspur; and Lily of the Valley a/k/a Convallaria. They say when you plant the tiniest piece of root (pips) from the Convallaria, that you must spend the rest of your time beating back the growth. That was exactly what I wished for when I planted nearly 80 of them last spring. Not one came up. :-(

P.S. The fractals were really nice,

Romulus Crowe said...

Lily of the Valley... I have those. The wretched things are indestructible, you can't even get rid of them by digging them out. Leave a bit behind and next year, it's back.

Then there's the pond lily, all very pretty but spreads so fast my fish are swimming on end to get between the stalks.

It sounds so innocent, the name 'lily'. They should be named the 'gotcha' plant.

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