Early (Earthy) Sources of Modern Drugs

Colleen recently made a presentation at the local Living Fit club; someone asked for her thoughts on pharmaceuticals. Although Colleen practices Eastern medicine, she was educated in, and works in, the field of modern Western medicine as well. She told the audience that she’s not against the use of western pharmaceuticals, but she believes that it’s important to remember that the pharma industry has only been around for about 50 years, and before it existed, we used a vast array of medicinal plants which our ancestors knew to be beneficial.

Many of the drugs we use today are lab-refined derivatives of medicinal plants, which our grandparents’ generation would have harvested from the local surroundings and used in their traditional recipes. Aspirin, for example is created from the bark of the willow tree.

Here is a very interesting article about Aspirin from Wikipedia.

The history of aspirin (also known as acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) and the medical use of it and related substances stretches back to antiquity, though pure ASA has only been manufactured and marketed since 1899. Medicines made from willow and other salicylate-rich plants appear in Egyptian pharonic pharmacology papyri [1] from the second millennium BCE Hippocrates referred to their use of salicylic tea to reduce fevers around 400 BCE[citation needed], and were part of the pharmacopoeia of Western medicine in Classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. Willow bark extract became recognized for its specific effects on fever, pain and inflammation in the mid-eighteenth century. Lewis and Clark allegedly used willow bark tea in 1803-1806 as a remedy for fever for members of the famous expedition. By the nineteenth century pharmacists were experimenting with and prescribing a variety of chemicals related to salicylic acid, the active component of willow extract.

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