WORTS - INFO

This is just a list of plants with the common name 'wort' appearing somewhere within their name. The 'wort' signifies that it was formerly used either as a food or, more frequently, as a medicine to help cure some ailment or disease. These treatments may or may not have fully worked as intended, and may also have introduced their own symptoms or disease - not least because the possible curative agent is mixed in with a plethora of other compounds and substances which may also have toxic qualities.

The plant would possibly have been pulverised or boiled in water to extract a cocktail (or wort) of the soluble substances within the plant. Many of these extraneous compounds would have been toxic in some way, and not usually curative. The chemical composition of the plants usually vary from plant to plant, from month to month, from year to year, from location to location. There are any number of variables affecting the secondary metabolite composition of any one plant, not least attack from other organisms (fungi, insects, rusts, moulds, you name it).

Nowadays, if the curative agent is effective in treating the ailment, it is usually refined and extracted as a pure substance from the plant. Thus Opium Poppy is grown commercially to extract the opiates from the plant, and some Daffodils are also used to extract galanthamine (this is because it is less expensive to extract these compounds from plants than to synthesize them in chemical labs). But these and just a few more are exceptions; most pharmaceuticals are nowadays synthesized in a laboratory; often improving on the ability of the active plant substance to aid the ailment whilst having far-fewer less-desirable side effects into the bargain.

Woe betide anyone who attempts self-medication using worts extracted from plants these days. You might make things worse, and death is not an impossibility...



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