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Wednesday, 31 August 2005 11:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Hunger quelling plant may provide diet boost
A Scottish company that specialises in natural ingredients has commissioned a study of a plant used by 12th century monks to suppress appetite in the hope that it could be used to provide a new diet pill.

Archaeologists found ancient texts describing how Augustinian monks of South Aisle, outside Edinburgh, chewed the plant to quash their appetite “for many weeks”.

Dr Brian Moffat, who is directing the dig at South Aisle, said: "We're looking at a plant that has been forgotten, although evidence shows it has been in use for at least seven or eight centuries all over Europe.

"The bitter vetch plant, Lathyrus linifolius, features in any plant book. It is even more remarkable that no-one has heard of its older uses.

"We believe it was traditionally used by peasant farmers who harvested it in case their crops failed. They would eat two or three of the tubers, which are the size of a pea, and they didn't feel hungry. They feel no need to eat and drink and this lasts for weeks, sometimes into months.

"The plant was also handed round in the court of Charles II in 1685, helping people who were living well to diet."

A spokesman for the company Highland Natural Products yesterday refused to discuss plans for using the plant as a diet pill ingredient because the information was “commercially sensitive”.


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