When I was studying Biochemistry back in Quebec City, I took a history of pharmacy class out of personal interest, which was the only class I failed in my life, might I add (the prof swore there would be no dates on the final exam which counted for 70% of the final grade – turns out the final exam was heavily date-oriented. Major disappointment). I can, however, say that this class fascinated me beyond belief and I took an interesting tidbit of information with me from that class:
In the olden days, people resorted to plants to heal their loved ones and thought that foods that resembled particular body parts were helpful for the health of those respective body parts. For example, the general consensus was that walnuts, whose folds and wrinkles resemble the neocortex of the brain, were good for the ol’ thinker, tomato juice was good for the blood and that kidney beans were good for the kidneys. It’s like nature was God’s pharmacy. Turns out, walnuts have omega-3 fats which are great for maintaining the protective sheath of our neurons, tomato juice reduces the blood’s tendency to clot and kidney beans are kidney-healthy as they contain the minerals potassium and magnesium, which help prevent kidney stones. Yet another example is that celery, which ressembles bones with a little imagination, contains silicon and vitamin K, which are contributors to optimal bone health.
One might ask, “who and how did someone first have the instinct of eating or utilizing plants that heretofore that time, were not known to be edible or useful”? There are no reports on the first use of plants as medicinal but it is thought that humans emulated fauna eating medicinal plants.
We sure have come a long way since then, as humans have uncovered the numerous benefits of many plants. Most researchers agree that plants and other organisms have been the most consistently successful source of ideas for new drugs. Today, 40% of prescription medications come from plant extracts or synthesized plant extracts. Here are a few examples of medications derived from plants: