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« The Irreducible Mind | Main | The Biology of Beauty »

January 10, 2007



Interesting! It reminds me of the discovery of the use of Wormwood for Malaria, and now possibly Cancer. I think that it would b foolhardy to dismiss the observations that were obtained by these 'traditional' approaches. Seeing that they would have at least had to remain consistent for a number of years.

Richard Petty

Dear Glen,

This is a very good point. There are a surprising number of plant-derived medicines that have already been isolated. It is also one of the reasons for our concern about the disappearance of plant and animal species that may be able to help us. Though sometimes it seems as if it is the combination of chemicals in a plant that exerts the therapeutic effect, rather than a single isolate.

There is a good example that I heard about at first hand. The father of a friend of mine was working as a doctor in India when he heard that the Ayurvedic physicians were using extracts of a small bush to help “excess internal heat,” the symptoms of which were elevations of blood pressure and elevated mood. The bush was Rauwolfia serpentina. Leaves, berries and roots from the bush were sent to Edinburgh University that was one of places where reserpine – an old treatment for hypertension and some forms of mental illness – was synthesized.

Kind regards,


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