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Monday, 11 June 2012

National Poetry Competition deadline 31st October 2012

Established in 1978, the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition is one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious poetry contests. The judges this year are Vicki Feaver, W.N. Herbert and Nick Laird. Winners include both established and emerging poets, and for many the prize has proved an important career milestone. Win, and add your name to a roll-call that includes the current UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Harrison, Ruth Padel, Philip Gross and Jo Shapcott – and have your work published in the Poetry Society’s leading international journal, Poetry Review.

The prizes are: £5,000 for the overall winner, £2,000 for the second, £1,000 for the third, with seven commendations of £100. The deadline is 31 October. 

Enter online or download an entry form at 

For further information, email the Poetry Society:

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Roman diet export and rationale for plants as medicines

Ythan estuary
@HealthMed Ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria) is a member of the carrot family, said first to have been recorded in Britain in 1578; but also, like Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata), said to have been introduced by the Romans to Britannia as a food and medicine, the leaves used as herbs and salads. Found at least as far North as the Ythan Estuary in North-East Scotland: now a sanctuary for skylarks, terns and seals. Used as a medicinal plant in Northern Europe by monks (hence Bishopsweed and Bishopswort, and Herb Gerard - after St. Gerard whose name was though to help cure the gout), as well as in South-East Asia. Known as goutweed, in view of its use as a treatment for gout (earlier known as podagra); also used to treat arthritis - in both cases as boiled leaves and roots applied as poultices to the affected parts.
Gout-weed is mentioned by the herbalist and physician Nicholas Culpeper in the Complete Herbal in 1653: ‘the very bearing of it about one eases the pains of the gout and defends him that bears it from the disease.’ The leaves also have diuretic and sedative effects.
Any wild plant should be treated with great respect as an error in identifying a plant may result in a different, highly poisonous plant being eaten by mistake. Also different parts of a plant may be harmless or very poisonous; and plants of different age may have different effects on the body from helpful to neutral to harmful.
Published advice is if eaten at all this is best confined to young ground elder plants, before flowering. Ground elder becomes bitter after flowering, older plants developing laxative effects due to increased gut motility. Bio-active ingredients include the polyacetylene falcarindiol (highest concentration in ground elder flowers). Falcarindiol has COX-1 inhibitary activity, the mode of action of aspirin and other modern non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs such as ibuprofen. This anti-inflammatory could explain beneficial effects to relieve gout and other forms of arthritis. Other potential bio-actives and trace elements include vitamin C and also iron, calcium, magnesium and beta-carotene. The vitamin C may contribute additional effects of the plant to relieve gout through causing a modest reduction in serum uric acid, the biochemical cause of gout.
See link to Magic of Medicine