With all due respect to Paracelsus, this is an oversimplification and
Poinsettia is a member of the Euphorbiaceae, most of which are
dangerously toxic; thus it is supposed among some that Poinsettia is
also toxic. But the toxic principles found in other Euphorbias are
distinctly absent from Poinsettia, and there is no evidence that
Poinsettia sap is anything worse than a mild, if annoying, irritant at
any exposure. There is only one published case of death attributed to
Poinsettia poisoning, and it is unsubstantiated.
There is no such thing as a toxic "dose" of poinsettia latex, & that's the
scientific fact. So your silly-ass & archly-cliche quote applies to
poinsettias only if it applies to water & Taco Time burritos. If
"poisonous" is defined so broadly as to include drowning because the dose
of water was an ocean, or eating so many spicy burritos that one's stomach
bursts & your sphincter turns inside out. Thus too large a dose of
exercise is poisonous. Too large a dose of standing up is poisonous. Too
large a dose of wakefulness is poisonous. Only if "poisonous" & "dose" are
catch-all joke-words is any of this rational, & the fact remains that it
is physically impossible to injest enough poinsettia for it to magically
become what it is not, toxic.
A hunk of granite is not poisonous & having one's head bashed in with a
large rock does not cause death because of the rock's high-dose toxicity.
The quotation is of course a poor translation AND out context at that. A
truer-to-the-original version would be "All things are poison & nothing is
without poison. The right dose distinguishes a poison from a cure," as
Paraclesus was much more an alchemist than a physician in the modern
sense, I believed in alchimical magic. What he taught itself turns out to
have minimal application to science, but in the popular mistranslation
Paracelsus is caused to imply something other than he actuall said. The
idea that "NOTHING is inherently toxic but EVERYTHING can be toxic in
excess" is now well known to be profoundly false, & even Paracelsus knew
that a study of toxins was NOT a study of all things in excess, since his
real meaning was standard among alchemists & still promulgated by
homeopaths who believe infinitely small amounts of poisons have effects on
the body the exact opposite of their influence at large doses. This is
magical thinking, not physics, certainly not toxicology.
Unfortunatley the partially misunderstood & entirely outmoded theory IS
still used to justify dumping millions of small doses of massively toxic
substances into the environment every day, under the premise that low
doses of even the world's worst toxins are harmless in concentrated soups,
no matter how large the total amount, so long as no single toxin would be
harmful at the low dose that is permitted for each individual component of
the multitudes of toxins dumped.
-paghat the ratgirl
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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