People have always sought cures for medical illnesses.
The first healers experimented with plants, combinations of plants and teas and plant extracts centuries ago. Much of his work simply wasn't worth it.
They discovered that some plants have no effect on a disease and others are able to quickly kill their patients. However, they discovered that some plants had certain healing powers. Many of these are still with us today, known as medicinal herbs or folk medicine.
The first pioneers and settlers from North America often arrived without a doctor and had limited experience. They developed some remedies that seemed to work. They often trusted Native Americans who had already been here for hundreds of years to show them which plants could alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
For example: to treat headaches and other minor pains, Native Americans taught our ancestor to chew the bark of certain trees; This really worked. The willow sap, slippery elm, birch and a couple of others had a compound called salic acid. Now we know it as aspirin.
Witch hazel was used to treat poison ivy and hemorrhoids and provides some relief, but it is not a cure. They also said they used moss to treat toothache and prevent infections, but I haven't seen any indication that it really works with the moss species we have here.
Over the years, the medical industry began experimenting with several plants in search of new medications to treat diseases, infections and other health problems. Many of the medications we use today are the result of this ongoing research.
At the end of the 19th century, a researcher was able to isolate the chemical in the bark of trees that relieved pain. As a result, aspirin was first released to the public in 1899. Other things have been added to improve its ability to reduce both pain and inflammation.
A researcher working with poppy plants first isolated the morphine compound in 1826. This has been an important medication to relieve pain from injuries and surgery. Additional research with poppies has provided a complete family of pain medications that are used, and are often misused, today. These medications include heroin, codeine, oxycontin, methadone and fentanyl.
Quinine is a medicine used to treat malaria. This disease is most often associated with tropical climates where it is transmitted by mosquitoes. However, this disease was also a problem in North America.
Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s, was expected to carry sufficient amounts of quinine to treat the disease. Quinine is extracted from the Cinchona calisaya tree that grows in the rainforests of South America. It was brought back to Europe by the Jesuits who accompanied the Spanish explorers and from there they came to North America.
Aloe vera is made from the juice of the aloe plant. It relieves the pain of minor burns and can be an insect repellent. It is good for the skin and is often used in lotions and creams. I have met people who keep one or two floors in their kitchen. Then they suffer a small burn by touching a hot mango, they simply break a piece of the plant and squeeze some sap over the burn.
And the list continues.
Some of the most popular herbal medicines include: capsaicin pain reliever made from Capsicum annuum, a very hot pepper. The digoxin used to treat heart disease is extracted from the purple foxglove plant. Scopolamine is a drug that is used to relieve pain and make spies talk (according to several spy novels) and is derived from the Jimsonweed plant. Paclitaxol (Taxol) is used to treat some forms of cancer and is made from the Pacific yew plant. Two other anti-cancer medications are vinblastine and vincristine, both derived from the Madagascar periwinkle plant.
In addition to drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration made from plants, there are many other plants used in home remedies, recommended by herbal medicine professionals or simply exist in folk medicine. Some of these seem to work while others may not work. Many of these priests have been investigated. If you would like more information, you can easily spend a few days on the Internet, just be sure to check with several locations for consistent data before deciding.
Enjoy your garden.
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