Archaeologists investigating an ancient hospital site founded by Augustinian monks about 845 years ago have found evidence that they used to chew on the bitter vetch plant to stave off hunger pains.
…After months of research and excavation experts have identified the remains of plant tubers belonging to lathyrus linifolius, the bitter vetch plant, in the drains of a 12th century monastery at Soutra Aisle, south of Edinburgh.
…The monks, who used to run the religious retreat as a hospital and medieval medical research facility, are believed to have used the plant extracts to make a potion to stave off hunger.
“According to more than 300 reports, these tiny tubers, which have a leathery liquorice taste, were chewed to help people forget to eat and drink,” said Brian Moffat, the director of the Soutra Aisle dig. “They feel no need to eat and drink and this lasts for weeks, sometimes into months.” It is believed the appetite suppressing potion was used to help their patients lose weight or cope with the effects of a failed harvest.
Fascinating stuff our ancestors knew.