What to ship with a surgeon

“Was the previous surgeon some kind of druid?”

Ian McGuire

In his successful novel The North Water, Ian McGuire describes the experiences of a ship’s surgeon on a 1800s North Sea whaling ship. I read it to catch up on my CPD. Early in the book there is a description of the restocking of the medicine chest for the voyage. The contents of the chest are described as being Shakespearian. One item caught my eye. Tragacanth. This an odourless, water soluble sap. When mixed with water it forms a soft gel. It’s medicinal uses include the therapy of cough and diarrhoea. It can also be used as burns dressing. Tragacanth has other uses that interest me more. It is the tradtional binder for artists pastels and tempura paints. It can be used as a base for cake decorating, cigar rolling and the marbling texture applied to high end stationery. Ironically, it is a key ingredient of Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges. #multitaskingsap #letsmakelemonade

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