Throwback Thursday’s: Panacea & Poison

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Panacea is a solution or remedy for disease and illness. Poison is the opposite of panacea BUT poisonous plants also contain healing properties! Medicine has come a very long way over the many centuries. Today I’d like to share with you some of the old medicines that can harm but they can also heal.

Throwback Thursday’s: Panacea & Poison

For centuries healers and medicine workers practiced and harnessed the healing powers of poisonous, toxins and venom as medicine. There are many different medicines that are derived from poisonous plants, consider the anti-venom and serums that are provided to those bitten by a snake or a spider, the venom is actually the poison.

Poisonous Plants Used As Medicine

Pacific Yew

Pacific Yew | Throwback Thursday’s: Panacea & PoisonPacific Yew | Throwback Thursday’s: Panacea & Poison
image via Flickr

The Yew tree is used to inhibit the progress of certain cancers.

Opium, Mandrake, Henbane, and Hemlock

All of these plants can be toxic in high doses but all of them have been used for topical numbers in the past.

Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna)

For centuries nightshade has been used to poison enemy troops during wars. This same plant that will kill will also heal. Doctors use Belladonna to alleviate motion sickness, treat IBS, and other inflammatory conditions. The plant is also used to control muscle spasms and Parkinson’s disease. Topically Belladonna can be used as a pain reliever.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) | Throwback Thursday’s: Panacea & Poison

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) | Throwback Thursday’s: Panacea & Poison

This beautiful plant can provide much healing but if a person were to eat it they would be terribly sorry because it can be deadly if it is eaten. Back in the 18th century, a physician from Britain made an infusion using foxglove and it was discovered it can treat drops, also known as, edema. In modern day medicine, they have found that deriving specific chemicals from the plant to make medication with can help people who suffer from congestive heart failure.

So you see some of the same plants that can have a negative effect on our bodies can also have a very positive effect. Always study and know your plants before trying to treat yourself. Any of these plants can be very dangerous if used in the wrong manner. Always consult a medical professional before trying anything new.

Emory University shows us how poison plants revolutionize medicine:

Medicine has come a very long way, especially for homesteaders. One of the most important things for us homesteaders is being completely self-sufficient. Taking a look back in history at some of the medicines the can be deadly that can also heal is a real eye opener. I do not suggest trying to make any medicines from these specific plants, I do however hope to inspire others to learn about how amazing medicine truly can be.

What do you think about poisonous plants used as medicine? Let us know in the comments below.

Here are the must know rules on picking edible & medicinal plants!


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