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Medicinal Plants and Ethnobotany

The modern pharmaceutical industry has deep roots in Medicinal Plants and Ethnobotany (a branch of botany that deals with the scientific study of medicinal plants and the traditional knowledge and customs of indigenous people throughout the world using plants/herbs for medical, religious, and other rituals). To cite a few examples, how many of us do realize that Aspirin, commonly used for pain relief and fever, originated from the bark of willow trees containing the active ingredient salicylic acid, or the anti-cancer drug Taxol was developed from the Pacific Yew tree, or the anti-malarial drug Quinine is extracted from the bark of Cinchona tree. From prehistoric times to the present, medicinal plants and herbs have been an integral part of human life as a natural remedy for sickness and maintaining healthy lifestyles. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurvedic Medicine practiced in India etc. have been in existence for thousands of years and used successfully by local population for fighting common diseases and as dietary supplements.

 

Increasing AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) to currently available antibiotics used to treat  bacterial infections is a serious threat to modern medicine. The untapped antibacterial properties of medicinal plants abundant throughout nature, could come to our rescue to alleviate this pressing problem.

 

I strongly believe that plants are our lifeline and our very survival depends on them.

 

Willow TreeWillow Tree

                                                  Willow Tree

 

Pacific Yew TreePacific Yew Tree

                        Pacific Yew Tree

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Antimicrobial-resistant infections are now a leading cause of death around the world. Lancet, a leading medical journal, reports that in 2019 such infections killed ~1.3 million people globally. The highest tolls by far were in sub-saharan Africa (24 deaths/100,000) followed by South Asia (22 deaths/100,000). The rampant use of antibiotics in these countries and elsewhere has created a proliferation of new drug-resistant bugs. This is a crucial time for us to turn to nature and seek the antibacterial properties of medicinal plants to combat the emerging superbugs.

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Recognized Social Butterfly

Conservative political commentator, Michael Savage, has a PhD in Nutritional Ethnomedicine.

 

 

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Richard Evans Schultes (1915-2001), son of a plumber, is widely recognized as the father of modern Ethnobotany. He obtained his Ph.D. in Botany in 1941 from Harvard University. Dr. Schultes has done monumental work on medicinal plants, herbs and psychedelics. He spent considerable amount of time in the Amazon jungles, the Andes and Mexico and lived with the indigenous communities to gather ethnobotanical information.He was a trailblazer and influenced a number of other scientists to follow his footsteps.

Dr. Schultes in the Amazon (1940)Dr. Schultes in the Amazon (1940)

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