A history of adulterated botanical drugs

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(Via New Hope 360.) The Fall 2011 issue of the American Botanical Council's HerbalGram features "A Brief History of Adulteration of Herbs, Spices, and Botanical Drugs," an article covering intentional and unintentional alterations going back to ancient Greece. In ancient Athens, such mischief included adding flavorings to wine to make it taste like an older vintage. Since then cinnamon oil has been watered down with wine, black pepper mixed with linseed, and green tea blackened with sheep's dung. The most famous episode was probably the Prohibition-era Jamaica Ginger scandal, in which antifreeze and plasticizers were added to a ginger extract, which paralyzed up to 50,000 people who drank it for the alcohol. Many "Ginger Jake" victims were left with a distinctive gait called the jake walk. Early detection methods included…
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