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Lettuce - Fact or Fiction?
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One problem with writing historicals is that you need to get your facts right. Another problem is that even after you get your facts right, they can change. Those who study history are forever making new discoveries, refining their theories and changing their minds about what the facts are. So it was with some alarm that two days after mailing off the corrected ARC of Six For Gold, Mary and I noticed this story:Egyptians Ate Lettuce to Boost Sex Drive.

The ancient Egyptians used lettuce as an aphrodisiac, according to an Italian researcher who claims to have solved a century-old archaeological puzzle.

As it happens one of our characters in the new novel has a brief encounter with Egyptian lettuce. Did we write something that the advance of human knowledge has proved to be wrong?

No, I'm relieved to say. The puzzle that was solved was why the ancients thought of lettuce as both a sedative and an aphrodisiac.

Tests showed that 1 gram of lactucarius induces calming and pain killing effects because of the presence of lactucin and lactucopicrin. At the highest doses [2 to 3 grams], the stimulating effects of tropane alkaloids prevail.

Luckily, we didn't get into lactucarius, lactucin, lactucopicrin, or even tropane alkaloids. Sometimes sketchy desciptions are best.

Unfortunately, now I can fret about the five other books out there waiting for the facts in them to be changed. And agonize over how much lettuce to put in the next salad.

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