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Paul has posted two annotations/comments since 9 July 2014.

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Second Reading

About Saturday 20 September 1662

Paul  •  Link

More on ergot
Ergot is caused by a fungus (Claviceps purpurea) which has been found on hundreds of plants in almost every country of the world. The fungus can adapt itself to form many different varieties. New species of the fungus and new hosts are still discovered today.…

Ergotism is the syndrome that develops in humans and animals after eating food or feed with ergot contamination. Ergotism in humans is now rare because of the strict guidelines for allowable ergot bodies in grain. Ergot poisoning from eating contaminated rye flour led to deaths in the Middle Ages. Symptoms include impaired blood circulation, causing alternating burning and freezing sensations, followed by gangrene of extremities. This symptom was referred to as St. Anthony's Fire. Nervous convulsions can also occur and lead to eventual death. Commercially produced flour and grain products are at very little risk of contamination, but home-grown grain should not be used unless checked thoroughly to ensure it is free of ergot.…

Here in Australia, drugs previously derived from ergot but now synthesised have been used since at least the 1970s for the treatment of migraine (Sandomigran ergotamine tablets) and as ergometrine injection (for post-partum haemorrhage). A classic case of Paracelsus’ dictum: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison”

About Monday 8 July 1661

Paul  •  Link

Poor Sam. Yesterday's entry wistful and sad compared to his usual ebullient self. Uncle gone, property to Sam after Dad goes, a good sermon, a full day's ride from home, Aunt in a nasty ugly pickle, lots to reflect on