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July 14, 1962

Of Herbs and Spices

JAMA. 1962;181(2):173. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050280103021

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This is a delightfully written book which discusses plants used as spices and healing herbs, both past and present. The introduction describes the important part that these plants have played in history; the pleasing illustrations are from a 16th century herbal. The book will prove of interest to devotees of medical history, Shakespeare, and fine cooking. It explains well such quotations as, "His wit's as thick as Tewkesbury mustard," and, "Rosemary, that's for remembrance." The derivation of the names of many plants also makes for interesting reading, for example, foxglove (digitalis), from Anglo-Saxon foxes glew (fox music), a musical instrument of bells hung on an arched support comparable to the spray of digitalis blossoms.

It is unfortunate, however, that the author did not consult some technical advisor; this would have prevented him from obtaining "insulin" (sic) from several plants, and affirming that "apiol is also considered to be a safe

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