hist-brewing: Bog myrtle

Paloma Hill peeweenation at myfastmail.com
Sun Aug 4 19:22:44 PDT 2002


I've been brewing with bog myrtle and find it to be a wonderful taste in beer.  We've also tried marsh rosemary, yarrow, mugwort, and wormwood.   Wormwood, in moderation is pretty good also.  I can't quite get excited about yarrow.
We drank a bit of, actually, all of these brews - during bottling, flat, but still tasty, and found that we had quite a different feeling than we had gotten from hopped beers.  
So... I really like these ingredients, and I have also read people warning against using them - carcinogenics, abortives, etc.  (I also like sasafrass - and it is also on the bad herb list).  Personally, I've always been very suspect of these warnings.  I suspect that it's much easier to do a bad baby study, or have an experience that would cause one to put this negative information out - but really is there any hard evidence?  I know that if I ingest too much aspirin I will die - and if I take too much over time I'll get ulcers, but it's okay for me to take some.  Isn't it possible that these warnings are overrated?  That it's easier to warn against something based on incomplete information than to attribute positive attributes to herbs.  I find it hard to believe that an herb that was very popular for thousands of years is so bad for me.  Look at the really awful poisonous drugs and foods that the FDA approves.  When's the last time the FDA looked hard at Hostess Twinkies?
So, here are my questions to all of you wondrously intelligent brew historians:
What are the warnings against each of the aforementioned herbs?
What is the source of evidence that is behind these warnings?  How can I research these findings?
Are any of these herbs banned by the FDA?  (I had heard mugwort is, but then I heard of 2 brewing companies that have sold mugwort ale - so ??)
What could be used as a substitute for these herbs if they are really so bad? 
Does one really have to put hops in a beer/ale to sell it as such in this country  - and how much?  I know, different subject.. oh well.

thanks!
Paloma Hill
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