How the herb Charles II used to keep royal mistresses in shape could help fight today's obesity epidemic

It is an ancient slimming remedy with a royal seal of approval.

Now a traditional herb used by King Charles II to help his mistresses lose weight could be used in the modern day battle against obesity. Experts want to re-establish the humble heath pea to fight the nation's weight crisis after evidence of its use was discovered during an archaeological dig.

Heath pea, which is also known as bitter vetch, was used in medieval times as a hunger suppressant when the crops failed. It was also passed around the court of King Charles, who gave it to his lovers who had a propensity for plumpness.

Monks used the plant to treat patients in the 14th century Soutra Aisle monastery near Edinburgh, which is currently being excavated.

Dr Brian Moffat, an expert on medieval remedies, said the idea to promote heath pea as a slimming aid had been developed after he came across the remedy during the dig at the Soutra site. Dr Moffat, who is director of the dig, said it appeared the monks cut up the tubers of the plant to make a potion. He said the tubers - which have a "leathery liquorice" taste - had the effect of making people forget to eat.

Speaking on a BBC Radio Scotland documentary to be broadcast next month, he said: "We have been dealing with some anonymous little tubers, which have been chopped up in to quarters. The tubers are of heath pea or bitter vetch. If you ate one of these pea sized tubers you are meant to 'not eat, not want to eat and not miss eating for weeks and even in to months'. They were actually used as a measure to ward off hunger once crops had failed in the fields. We thought we must take this further because the plants seemed to become obsolete really at the time when mass potato cultivation came in. "

Source - Daily Mail

Source - Daily Mail

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