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Desert Diary


Ever look closely at your prescription label? Some, of course, are innocuous, but look at the amounts of active ingredients in others. Four-tenths of a milligram, for example. This may not have much of an impact until you consider that a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram. So? How heavy is a gram? Well, there are about 28 and a third grams in a single ounce. Or, to put it into milligrams, 28,349.5 milligrams per ounce.

To get an idea of how much the medication we're talking about weighs, take something weighing an ounce and divide it into 70,874 pieces. ONE of those pieces is the amount of medication we're considering. What's my point? Merely that an amazingly small amount of some substances can have a profound effect on the body. The next time someone suggests you try such and such an herb for some purpose, remember just how little of an active substance it may take to impact the workings of your body; and remember that plants were manufacturing powerful chemicals long before mankind existed.
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso. rule