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Academic & Professional Books  Botany  Economic Botany & Ethnobotany

Modern Medicines from Plants Botanical Histories of Some of Modern Medicine's Most Important Drugs

By: Henry F Oakeley(Editor), Michael de Swiet(Preface By)
393 pages, 171 colour photos and colour & b/w illustrations
Publisher: CRC Press
Modern Medicines from Plants
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  • Modern Medicines from Plants ISBN: 9781032536170 Paperback Aug 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
  • Modern Medicines from Plants ISBN: 9781032534343 Hardback Jul 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
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About this book

The full-colour, beautifully illustrated Modern Medicines from Plants: Botanical Histories of Some of Modern Medicine's Most Important Drugs features information on plants from which we obtain modern prescription medicines. It outlines their historical uses as herbal medicines in the past two millennia, using primary sources, and describes how extracts from them, and their semisynthetic and synthetic derivatives, were developed to be today's therapeutic drugs and diagnostic chemicals. This book describes medicinal plants and their habitats, the diseases that their medicines treat, and the science of how they work.

This amazing and unique book is a wonderful read for those with an interest in both herbal and prescription medicines. Written with authority by physicians and gardeners at the Garden of Medicinal Plants at the Royal College of Physicians, London, chapters detail the history and modern scientific research on plants and their medicines. It is very useful to physicians, pharmacists, herbalists, historians and gardeners, bringing together information from every discipline to make it a work of interest as well as reference.


1. Ammi majus - ammi, false Queen Anne's lace, bullwort, bishop's weed, herb william - ethoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen)
2. Artemisia annua - sweet wormwood, annual wormwood, Qing-Hao - artemesinin and derivatives
3. Atropa belladonna - deadly nightshade; Datura stramonium - Jimson weed; and Mandragora, Hyoscyamus, Brugmansia, Scopolia - atropine and hyoscine
4. Betula pendula - silver birch - -sitosterol
5. Camellia sinensis - tea; Coffea arabica - coffee; Theobroma cacao - chocolate - caffeine, theophylline
6. Camptotheca acuminata - camptotheca - camptothecin, topotecan and irinotecan
7. Capsicum annuum - chilli pepper - capsaicin
8. Catharanthus roseus - Madagascar periwinkle, Cayenne Jasmine, old maid, rosy periwinkle - vincristine, vinblastine
9. Cephalotaxus harringtonia - Chinese plum yew - harringtonine
10. Chondrodendron tomentosum - curare vine - tubocurarine
11. Cinchona species - quinine tree, Jesuit's bark, Peruvian bark - quinine, quinidine
12. Citrus x limon - lemon - vitamin C
13. Colchicum autumnale - meadow saffron, autumn crocus, naked ladies - colchicine
14. Digitalis purpurea - purple foxglove - digitoxin; Digitalis lanata - woolly foxglove - digoxin
15. Dioscorea polystachya - yam; Glycine max - soybean - steroids
16. Ephedra sinica - Joint pine, Mormon tea - ephedrine, ecstasy
17. Erythroxylum coca - coca bush - cocaine
18. Euphorbia peplus - common spurge - ingenol mebutate
19. Galanthus nivalis - snowdrop - galantamine
20. Galega officinalis - goat's rue - phenformin, metformin
21. Glycyrrhiza glabra - liquorice - carbenoxolone, glycyrrhizic acid
22. Guaiacum officinale - roughbark lignum-vitae, guaiacwood - alpha-guaiaconic acid
23. Hordeum jubatum - foxtail barley; Arundo donax - giant reed - lignocaine (lidocaine) and derivatives
24. Hordeum vulgare, Claviceps purpurea - common barley, ergot - ergometrine, ergotamine
25. Hydrangea febrifuga - Asian hydrangea, Chinese quinine - febrifugine, methaqualone, halofuginone
26. Illicium verum - Chinese star anise; I. anisatum - Japanese Star Anise - oseltamivir
27. Inula helenium - elecampane, enula, horseheal, scabwort, wild sunflower - inulin
28. Melilotus officinalis - melilot, ellow weet clover, king's clover, yellow melilot - warfarin
29. Morus alba - white mulberry - miglustat, miglitol
30. Nicotiana tabacum - tobacco - nicotine, with a note on Lobelia - lobeline, and Laburnum anagyroides - cytisine
31. Papaver rhoeas - corn or Flander's poppy - rhoeadine, thebaine, oxycodone, etorphine and other derivatives
32. Papaver somniferum - opium poppy - morphine, codeine, noscapine, protopine
33. Physostigma venenosum - Calabar bean - physostigmine
34. Pilocarpus microphyllus - jaborandi - pilocarpine
35. Podophyllum peltatum - Mayapple, American mandrake, Ground lemon; Podophyllum hexandrum - Himalayan mayapple - podophyllotoxin, etoposide, teniposide
36. Rauvolfia serpentina - snake root - reserpine
37. Salix alba - willow; Filipendula ulmaria - meadowsweet; Gaultheria procumbens - wintergreen - aspirin, salicylic acid and methyl salicylate
38. Silybum marianum - milk thistle - silymarin, Legalon-SIL
39. Tanacetum cineriifolium - pyrethrum, Dalmation chrysanthemum - pyrethrins
40. Taxus baccata - European yew; Taxus brevifolia -Pacific yew - paclitaxel and derivatives
41. Valeriana officinalis - valerian - sodium valproate
42. Veratrum album, V. nigrum - false hellebores - protoveratrine - V. californicum - cyclopamine and sonidegib
43. Visnaga daucoides - khella - nifedipine, amiodarone, sodium cromoglicate, nedocromil sodium
44. Excipients and Solvents
45. Vitamins

Customer Reviews


Henry Oakeley is a retired consultant psychiatrist who has been interested in plants since the age of eight and an international authority on a group of South American orchids, on which he has written the definitive monograph and held the UK National Collections. Sometime adviser to the Chelsea Physic Garden, Honorary Research Associate at Kew and Singapore Botanic Gardens; chairman of the RHS Orchid Committee, RHS Council Member and currently RHS Vice President. He has lectured on orchids and exhibited them around the world; written over 250 articles on orchids and written (or co-authored) ten books relating to plants and their uses, and others on the English Civil War, the Anglo-Boer war, and medical biographies. Since 2005 he has been a Garden Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians, London where he lectures on the plants in the Medicinal Garden. His orchid herbarium and drawings have been deposited at Kew, and his medicinal plant and orchid photographic archives at Kew and elsewhere. His current interest is in documenting the change of use of medicinal plants over the past two millennia.

By: Henry F Oakeley(Editor), Michael de Swiet(Preface By)
393 pages, 171 colour photos and colour & b/w illustrations
Publisher: CRC Press
Media reviews

"Modern Medicine from Plants is a very accessible addition to any collection of books on nature and how we might benefit from its gentle management and sensitive interaction, especially when we need help "on the fly" or in the field."
– G. Carlo Laurenzi OBE – former CEO of the Wildlife Trust; London; adviser to DEFRA; past member of the founding board of Rewilding Britain; and a long-time forager and bushcrafter

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