Pharmaceutical drugs are traditional medicines, but the oldest medicines were herbal — many of today’s drugs originated from plants, making alternative medicine much less alternative than portrayed.
More than half world’s population uses only plants for their medicine. For those who live in countries with easy access to pharmaceuticals, many of their common medicines were from plants. Boerne Drug Company, a leading over-the-counter pharmacy in Texas, tells us more.
The Common Headache Pill
Aspirin pills are a popular remedy for headaches and fever. They weren’t made in a lab but were derived from the bark of the willow tree. The tree was rich in a substance called salicylate — the component responsible for relieving pain.
Its use dates as far back as 400 BC when ancient Greeks drank it as a tea to relieve their fevers. By the mid-19th century, a chemist treated it with acetyl chloride and sodium salicylate to create acetylsalicylic acid to make tablets.
Codeine is a chemically converted form of morphine, which came from poppy flowers by a German apothecary called Friedrich Serturner. This was in the start of the 1800s.
He named the compound after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. It treats moderate pains, such as post-operative pain, migraines and arthritis. It is only available on prescription.
Penicillin — the world’s first antibiotic — originated from mold in 1928. After scientist Alexander Fleming returned from holiday, one of his petri dish samples had grown mold on it. He noticed that around the area of mold, there was no bacterial growth.
When he tested the mold on various pathogens such as meningococcus and diphtheria bacillus, he found that it killed them.
There are lots of other drugs that have originated from plants, such as beta blockers, migraine prevention tablets, cardiac drugs and statins. And given the capabilities of science and technology, these won’t be the last.