PHARMACEUTICALS - INFO
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Pharmacognosy is the study of Pharmaceuticals produced by plants.
Plants in this category were once, or are still, used as a source of drugs in the pharmaceutical industry (in its widest sense. I include pharmacists, apothecaries, old-wives, and possibly quacks too).
Nowadays plants can be genetically engineered to produce certain drugs when they did not before. All genetically engineered varieties are naturally excluded from this list, as they are not wild flowers anyway.
Many of the plants yielding pharmaceuticals are either non-native to this country, or not wild flowers, but cultivated. As such, once again they do not gain an entry into this tome.
Typical examples of plants that produce natural drugs are Foxglove [not yet linked to] which yields four powerful heart drugs: digitoxin and digoxin (gitalin and digitalin are names of mixtures of substances obtained from digitalis plants).
The bark of the Yew tree (or more particularly Pacific Yew, Taxus Brevifolia) which yields two new anti-cancer drugs taxol and paclitaxel.
Extracts from Henbane yield three or more alkaloids: hyoscyamine, scopolamine amongst them, used to dilate the pupils of the eyes.
The anti-cholinergic drug atropine, a tropane alkaloid, is obtained from Deadly Nightshade [not yet linked to].
Wormwood [not yet linked to] yields the drug santonin, used as an ascaricide. An ascaricide is a compound that treats worm infections (those worms belonging to the family Ascarididae).
The cerebral stimulant vasicine is obtained from Vinca Minor.
Monk's-hood yields the extremely poisonous alkaloid aconitine, a powerful nerve poison once used on the tip of poison arrows. It is now used externally only - to treat pain, its internal use now being judged as far too erratic and un-predictable, seeing as there is no antidote to its severe poison.
The very first anaesthetic was invented by Hanaoka, a Japanese surgeon, who arrived at a concoction that worked without killing his patients by a process of trial and error using cats and dogs as his subjects. This process took 20 years. By 1804 he had settled on a potion consisting of Angel's Trumpet (datura metel) (scopolamine, hyoscyamine and atropine)), Monk's-hood (aconitum japonica)(aconitine), Angelica, Schechuan Lovage (ligusticum wallichii) and Arum (arisaema serratum, in various proportions. Many, if not all, of these ingredients are highly poisonous.