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Medicinal plants, also called medicinal herbs, have been discovered and used in
traditional medicine Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic gr ...

traditional medicine
practices since prehistoric times.
Plants Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel t ...

Plants
synthesise hundreds of chemical compounds for functions including
defence Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military) A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is ty ...
against
insect Insects (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

insect
s,
fungi A fungus (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...

fungi
,
diseases A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function (biology), function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury. Diseases are often known to be medical ...
, and
herbivorous A herbivore is an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All ...

herbivorous
mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
s. Numerous
phytochemicals Phytochemicals are chemical compounds produced by plants, generally to help them resist fungi, bacteria and plant virus infections, and also consumption by insects and other animals. The name comes . Some phytochemicals have been used as poison ...
with potential or established
biological activity In pharmacology Pharmacology is a branch of medicine and pharmaceutical sciences concerned with drug or medication action, where a drug may be defined as any artificial, natural, or endogenous (from within the body) molecule which exerts a bio ...
have been identified. However, since a single plant contains widely diverse phytochemicals, the effects of using a whole plant as medicine are uncertain. Further, the phytochemical content and
pharmacological Pharmacology is a branch of medicine Medicine is the Art (skill), art, science, and Praxis (process) , practice of caring for a patient and managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment or Palliative ...
actions, if any, of many plants having medicinal potential remain unassessed by rigorous
scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what ...

scientific research
to define efficacy and safety. The earliest historical records of herbs are found from the
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
ian civilisation, where hundreds of medicinal plants including
opium Opium (or poppy tears, scientific name: ''Lachryma papaveris'') is dried latex Latex is a stable dispersion (emulsion An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally Miscibility, immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) o ...

opium
are listed on clay tablets, c. 3000 BC. The
Ebers Papyrus The Ebers Papyrus, also known as Papyrus Ebers, is an Egyptian medical papyrus of herbal knowledge dating to circa 1550 BC. Among the oldest and most important medical papyri of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient ...
from
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

ancient Egypt
, c. 1550 BC, describes over 850 plant medicines. The Greek physician
Dioscorides Pedanius Dioscorides ( grc-gre, Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης, ; 40–90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author of '' De materia medica'' (, On Medical Material) —a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal m ...
, who worked in the Roman army, documented over 1000 recipes for medicines using over 600 medicinal plants in ''
De materia medica (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...
'', c. 60 AD; this formed the basis of
pharmacopoeia A pharmacopoeia, pharmacopeia, or pharmacopoea (from the obsolete typography ''pharmacopœia'', literally, "drug-making"), in its modern technical sense, is a book containing directions for the identification of compound medicine Medicine is t ...
s for some 1500 years. Drug research sometimes makes use of
ethnobotany at work in the Amazon (~1940s) Ethnobotany is the study of a region's plants and their practical uses through the traditional knowledge of a local culture and people. An ethnobotanist thus strives to document the local customs involving the practi ...
to search for pharmacologically active substances, and this approach has yielded hundreds of useful compounds. These include the common drugs
aspirin Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is a medication used to reduce pain, fever, or inflammation. Specific inflammatory conditions which aspirin is used to treat include Kawasaki disease, pericarditis, and rheumatic fever. Aspirin ...

aspirin
,
digoxin Digoxin, sold under the brand name Lanoxin among others, is a medication used to treat various heart conditions. Most frequently it is used for atrial fibrillation Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) c ...

digoxin
,
quinine Quinine is a medication used to treat malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced sympto ...

quinine
, and
opium Opium (or poppy tears, scientific name: ''Lachryma papaveris'') is dried latex Latex is a stable dispersion (emulsion An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally Miscibility, immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) o ...

opium
. The compounds found in plants are of many kinds, but most are in four major biochemical classes:
alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of base (chemistry), basic, natural product, naturally occurring organic compounds that contain at least one nitrogen atom. This group also includes some related compounds with neutral and even weakly acidic properties. Som ...
s,
glycoside In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms ...

glycoside
s,
polyphenol Polyphenols () are a large family of naturally occurring s characterized by multiples of units. They are abundant in plants and structurally diverse. Polyphenols include s, , and , some of which have been used historically as s and for . Et ...

polyphenol
s, and
terpene Terpenes () are a class of natural products consisting of compounds with the formula (C5H8)n. Comprising more than 30,000 compounds, these unsaturated hydrocarbons are produced predominantly by plant Plants are mainly multicellular organ ...
s. Medicinal plants are widely used in non-industrialized societies, mainly because they are readily available and cheaper than modern medicines. The annual global export value of the thousands of types of plants with medicinal properties was estimated to be US$2.2 billion in 2012. In 2017, the potential global market for botanical
extract An extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material A raw material, also known as a feedstock, unprocessed material, or primary commodity, is a basic material that is used to produce goods In economics Economics () ...

extract
s and medicines was estimated at several hundred billion dollars. In many countries, there is little regulation of traditional medicine, but the
World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the co-ordinating machinery of the Unit ...
coordinates a network to encourage safe and rational usage. Medicinal plants face both general threats, such as
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
and
habitat destruction Habitat destruction (also termed habitat loss and habitat reduction) is the process by which a natural habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and biotic factors that are pr ...
, and the specific threat of over-collection to meet market demand.


History


Prehistoric times

Plants, including many now used as
culinary herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is appl ...
s and
spice A spice is a seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was releas ...

spice
s, have been used as medicines, not necessarily effectively, from prehistoric times. Spices have been used partly to counter
food spoilage Food spoilage is the process where a food product becomes unsuitable to ingest by the consumer. The cause of such a process is due to many outside factors as a side-effect of the type of product it is, as well as how the product is packaged and stor ...
bacteria, especially in hot climates, and especially in meat dishes which spoil more readily. Angiosperms (
flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greec ...

flowering plant
s) were the original source of most plant medicines. Human settlements are often surrounded by weeds used as
herbal medicine Herbal medicine (also herbalism) is the study of pharmacognosy and the use of medicinal plants, which are a basis of traditional medicine. There is limited evidence-based medicine, scientific evidence for the safety and efficacy of plants used in ...

herbal medicine
s, such as
nettle{{redirect, Nettle Nettle is part of the English name of many plants with stinging hairs, particularly those of the genus '' Urtica''. It is also part of the name of plants which resemble ''Urtica'' species in appearance but do not have stinging hai ...

nettle
,
dandelion ''Taraxacum'' () is a large genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may al ...

dandelion
and
chickweed ''Stellaria media'', chickweed, is an annual and perennial flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae.Fernald, M. L. 1950. “Gray's Manual of Botany”. Eight Edition. American Book Company, New York, NY. 1632 pp. It is native to Eurasi ...
. Humans were not alone in using herbs as medicines: some animals such as non-human
primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small Terrestrial animal, ...

primate
s,
monarch butterflies The monarch butterfly or simply monarch (''Danaus plexippus'') is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. Other common names, depending on region, include milkweed, common tiger, wanderer, and black-veined brown. It ...
and
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...

sheep
ingest medicinal plants when they are ill. Plant samples from prehistoric burial sites are among the lines of evidence that Paleolithic peoples had knowledge of herbal medicine. For instance, a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal burial site, " Shanidar IV", in northern Iraq has yielded large amounts of pollen from eight plant species, seven of which are used now as herbal remedies. Also, a
mushroom A mushroom or toadstool is the fleshy, spore )'', growing on a thinning, thinned hybrid black poplar ''(populus, Populus x canadensis)''. The last stage of the moss#Life cycle, moss lifecycle is shown, where the sporophytes are visible befor ...
was found in the personal effects of ''
Ötzi the Iceman ) , known_for = Oldest natural mummy A mummy is a dead human or an animal whose soft tissues and Organ (anatomy), organs have been preserved by either intentional or accidental exposure to Chemical substance, chemicals, extreme cold, v ...
'', whose body was frozen in the
Ötztal Alps The Ötztal Alps ( it, Alpi Venoste, german: Ötztaler Alpen) are a in the , in the in western and the in northern . Geography The Ötztal Alps are arrayed at the head of the valley, a side valley of the river southwest of , Austria. One lin ...

Ötztal Alps
for more than 5,000 years. The mushroom was probably used against
whipworm ''Trichuris trichiura, Trichocephalus trichiuris'' or whipworm, is a parasitic Parasitism is a Symbiosis, symbiotic biological interactions, relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organis ...
.


Ancient times

In ancient
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
ia, hundreds of medicinal plants including
myrrh Myrrh (; from Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religion ...
and
opium Opium (or poppy tears, scientific name: ''Lachryma papaveris'') is dried latex Latex is a stable dispersion (emulsion An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally Miscibility, immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) o ...

opium
are listed on clay tablets from around 3000 BC. The
ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistori ...
Ebers Papyrus The Ebers Papyrus, also known as Papyrus Ebers, is an Egyptian medical papyrus of herbal knowledge dating to circa 1550 BC. Among the oldest and most important medical papyri of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient ...
lists over 800 plant medicines such as
aloe ''Aloe'' ( , ), also written ''Aloë'', is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and livin ...

aloe
,
cannabis ''Cannabis'' () is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including ...

cannabis
,
castor bean ''Ricinus communis'', the castor bean or castor oil plant, is a species of perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term ('' per-'' + '' -ennial'', "through the years") is often used ...
,
garlic Garlic (''Allium sativum'') is a species of bulbous flowering plant in the genus ''Allium''. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, Allium fistulosum, Welsh onion and Allium chinense, Chinese onion. It is native to Central ...

garlic
,
juniper Junipers are conifer Conifers are a group of conifer cone, cone-bearing Spermatophyte, seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the phylum, division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Coniferae. The divi ...

juniper
, and
mandrake A mandrake is the root of a plant, historically derived either from plants of the genus '' Mandragora'' found in the Mediterranean region, or from other species, such as '' Bryonia alba'', the English mandrake, which have similar properties. The ...
. From ancient times to the present,
Ayurvedic medicine Ayurveda () is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. The theory and practice of Ayurveda is pseudoscientific. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) characterises the practice of modern medicine by A ...

Ayurvedic medicine
as documented in the
Atharva Veda The Atharva The Atharva Veda (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of th ...
, the
Rig Veda The ''Rigveda'' or ''Rig Veda'' ( ', from ' "praise" and ' "knowledge") is an ancient Indian collection Collection or Collections may refer to: * Cash collection, the function of an accounts receivable department * Collection agency, ag ...
and the
Sushruta Samhita The ''Sushruta Samhita'' (सुश्रुतसंहिता, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employ ...
has used hundreds of pharmacologically active herbs and spices such as
turmeric Turmeric (pronounced , also ) is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: ...
, which contains
curcumin Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by plants of the ''Curcuma longa'' species. It is the principal curcuminoid Image:Bisdemethoxycurcumin.png, 200px, Bisdemethoxycurcumin A curcuminoid is a linear diarylheptanoid, a relatively ...

curcumin
. The Chinese pharmacopoeia, the ''
Shennong Ben Cao Jing ''Shennong Bencaojing'' (also ''The Classic of Herbal Medicine'' and ''Shen-nung Pen-tsao Ching''; ) is a China, Chinese book on agriculture and medicinal plants, traditionally attributed to Shennong. Researchers believe the text is a compilation ...
'' records plant medicines such as chaulmoogra for leprosy,
ephedra , an alkaloid found in ephedra Ephedra is a medicinal preparation from the plant '' Ephedra sinica''. Several additional species belonging to the genus ''Ephedra (genus), Ephedra'' have traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, ...
, and
hemp Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a botanical class of ''Cannabis sativa ''Cannabis sativa'' is an annual indigenous to , but now of cosmopolitan distribution due to widespread cultivation. It has been cultivated throughout , used as a source ...
. This was expanded in the
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
''
Yaoxing Lun ''Yaoxing Lun'' (''Yao-hsing Lun''; ), literally ''Treatise on the Nature of Medicinal Herbs'', is a 7th-century Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an int ...
''. In the fourth century BC,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
's pupil
Theophrastus Theophrastus (; grc-gre, Θεόφραστος ; c. 371c. 287 BC), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos Island, Lesbos,Gavin Hardy and Laurence Totelin, ''Ancient Botany'', Routledge, 2015, p. 8. was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic ...

Theophrastus
wrote the first systematic botany text, '' Historia plantarum''. In around 60 AD, the Greek physician
Pedanius Dioscorides Pedanius Dioscorides ( grc-gre, Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης, ; 40–90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author of ''De materia medica (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to th ...
, working for the Roman army, documented over 1000 recipes for medicines using over 600 medicinal plants in ''
De materia medica (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...
''. The book remained the authoritative reference on herbalism for over 1500 years, into the seventeenth century.


Middle Ages

In the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
,
Benedictine monasteries The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a monastic Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, lab ...
preserved medical knowledge in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, translating and copying classical texts and maintaining
herb garden A physic garden is a type of herb garden with medicinal plants. Botanical gardens developed from them. History Modern botanical gardens were preceded by medieval physic gardens that originated at the time of Emperor Charlemagne. Gardens of this ...
s.
Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard of Bingen (german: Hildegard von Bingen; la, Hildegardis Bingensis; ), also known as Saint Hildegard and the Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo San ...

Hildegard of Bingen
wrote ''Causae et Curae'' ("Causes and Cures") on medicine. In the
Islamic Golden Age The Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic, and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam The history of Islam concerns the political, social, economic, and cultural developments of Muslim world, Islamic civilization. M ...
, scholars translated many classical Greek texts including Dioscorides into
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
, adding their own commentaries. Herbalism flourished in the Islamic world, particularly in
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Baghdad
and in . Among many works on medicinal plants, Abulcasis (936–1013) of Cordoba wrote ''The Book of Simples'', and Ibn al-Baitar (1197–1248) recorded hundreds of medicinal herbs such as ''Aconitum'',
nux vomica ''Strychnos nux-vomica'', the strychnine tree, also known as nux vomica, poison nut, semen strychnos, and quaker buttons, is a deciduous In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term ''deciduous'' (; ) means "falling off at maturity" and ...
, and
tamarind Tamarind (''Tamarindus indica'') is a leguminous A legume () is a plant Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformat ...

tamarind
in his ''Corpus of Simples''.
Avicenna Ibn Sina ( fa, ابن سینا), also known as Abu Ali Sina (), Pur Sina (), and often known in the West as Avicenna (;  – June 1037), was a Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia' ...

Avicenna
included many plants in his 1025 ''
The Canon of Medicine ''The Canon of Medicine'' ( ar, القانون في الطب, italic=yes ''al-Qānūn fī al-Ṭibb''; fa, قانون در طب, italic=yes, ''Qanun-e dâr Tâb'') is an encyclopedia of medicine in five books compiled by Persian physician-phi ...

The Canon of Medicine
''.
Abu-Rayhan Biruni Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (973 – after 1050) was an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a cou ...
,
Ibn Zuhr Abū Marwān ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr ( ar, أبو مروان عبد الملك بن زهر), traditionally known by his Latinized name Latinisation (or Latinization) of names, also known as onomastic Latinisation, is the practice of rendering ...
,
Peter of Spain __NOTOC__ Peter of Hispania ( la, Petrus Hispanus; Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Po ...
, and John of St Amand wrote further
pharmacopoeia A pharmacopoeia, pharmacopeia, or pharmacopoea (from the obsolete typography ''pharmacopœia'', literally, "drug-making"), in its modern technical sense, is a book containing directions for the identification of compound medicine Medicine is t ...
s.


Early Modern

The
Early Modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of 's past. It is understood through , , , and , and since the , from and s. Humanity's written history was preceded by its , beginning with ...
period saw the flourishing of illustrated
herbal A herbal is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their medicinal, tonic, culinary, toxic Toxicity is the degree to which a chemical substance or a particular mixture of substances can damage a ...

herbal
s across Europe, starting with the 1526 '' Grete Herball''.
John Gerard John Gerard (also John Gerarde, c. 1545–1612) was an English herbalist with a large garden in London. His 1,484-page illustrated ''Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes'', first published in 1597, became a popular gardening and herbal book ...
wrote his famous ''The Herball or General History of Plants'' in 1597, based on
Rembert Dodoens Rembert Dodoens (born Rembert Van Joenckema, 29 June 1517 – 10 March 1585) was a Flemish Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian dialect cluster of the Dutch language. It is sometimes referred to as Flemish Dutch (), Belgian Dutch ( ), or ...

Rembert Dodoens
, and
Nicholas Culpeper Nicholas Culpeper (18 October 1616 – 10 January 1654) was an English botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scienti ...
published his ''The English Physician Enlarged''. Many new plant medicines arrived in Europe as products of Early Modern exploration and the resulting
Columbian Exchange #REDIRECT Columbian exchange#REDIRECT Columbian exchange native plants. Clockwise, from top left: 1. Citrus (Rutaceae); 2. Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agr ...
, in which livestock, crops and technologies were transferred between the Old World and the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries. Medicinal herbs arriving in the Americas included garlic, ginger, and turmeric; coffee, tobacco and coca travelled in the other direction. In Mexico, the sixteenth century ''Badianus Manuscript'' described medicinal plants available in Central America.


19th and 20th centuries

The place of plants in medicine was radically altered in the 19th century by the application of
chemical analysis Analytical chemistry studies and uses instruments and methods used to separate, identify, and quantify matter. In practice, separation, identification or quantification may constitute the entire analysis or be combined with another method. Sepa ...

chemical analysis
.
Alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming language In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of ...
s were isolated from a succession of medicinal plants, starting with
morphine Morphine is a of the family that is found naturally in a dark brown, resinous form, from the poppy plant ('). It can be taken orally or injected. It acts directly on the (CNS) to induce analgesia and alter perception and emotional respons ...

morphine
from the
poppy A poppy is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, f ...

poppy
in 1806, and soon followed by ipecacuanha and
strychnos ''Strychnos ignatii'', the "bean of Saint Ignatius Loyola, St. Ignatius" - another source of the very toxic, convulsant indole alkaloid strychnine ''Strychnos'' is a genus of flowering plants, belonging to the family (biology), family Loganiacea ...
in 1817,
quinine Quinine is a medication used to treat malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced sympto ...

quinine
from the
cinchona ''Cinchona'' (pronounced or ) is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV class ...
tree, and then many others. As chemistry progressed, additional classes of pharmacologically active substances were discovered in medicinal plants. Commercial extraction of purified alkaloids including morphine from medicinal plants began at Merck in 1826.
Synthesis Synthesis or synthesize may also refer to: Science Chemistry and biochemistry *Chemical synthesis, the execution of chemical reactions to form a more complex molecule from chemical precursors **Organic synthesis, the chemical synthesis of o ...

Synthesis
of a substance first discovered in a medicinal plant began with
salicylic acid Salicylic acid is an organic compound with the formula HOC6H4CO2H. A colorless, bitter-tasting solid, it is a precursor to and a active metabolite, metabolite of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is a plant hormone, and has been listed by the ...

salicylic acid
in 1853. Around the end of the 19th century, the mood of pharmacy turned against medicinal plants, as
enzyme Enzymes () are proteins that act as biological catalysts (biocatalysts). Catalysts accelerate chemical reactions. The molecules upon which enzymes may act are called substrate (chemistry), substrates, and the enzyme converts the substrates in ...

enzyme
s often modified the active ingredients when whole plants were dried, and alkaloids and glycosides purified from plant material started to be preferred. Drug discovery from plants continued to be important through the 20th century and into the 21st, with important anti-cancer drugs from
yew Yew is a common name given to various species of trees. The name is most prominently given to any of various coniferous Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants The spermatophytes (; ), also known as phanerogams (taxon Phanerogamae ...
and
Madagascar periwinkle ''Catharanthus roseus'', commonly known as bright eyes, Cape periwinkle, graveyard plant, Madagascar periwinkle, old maid, pink periwinkle, rose periwinkle, is a species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), o ...

Madagascar periwinkle
.


Context

Medicinal plants are used with the intention of maintaining health, to be administered for a specific condition, or both, whether in
modern medicine Medicine is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what ...

modern medicine
or in
traditional medicine Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic gr ...

traditional medicine
. The
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
estimated in 2002 that over 50,000 medicinal plants are used across the world. The
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a non-departmental public body In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegr ...
more conservatively estimated in 2016 that 17,810 plant species have a medicinal use, out of some 30,000 plants for which a use of any kind is documented. In modern medicine, around a quarter of the drugs prescribed to patients are derived from medicinal plants, and they are rigorously tested. In other systems of medicine, medicinal plants may constitute the majority of what are often informal attempted treatments, not tested scientifically. The
World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the co-ordinating machinery of the Unit ...
estimates, without reliable data, that some 80 percent of the world's population depends mainly on traditional medicine (including but not limited to plants); perhaps some two billion people are largely reliant on medicinal plants. The use of plant-based materials including herbal or natural health products with supposed health benefits, is increasing in developed countries. This brings attendant risks of toxicity and other effects on human health, despite the safe image of herbal remedies. Herbal medicines have been in use since long before modern medicine existed; there was and often still is little or no knowledge of the pharmacological basis of their actions, if any, or of their safety. The World Health Organization formulated a policy on traditional medicine in 1991, and since then has published guidelines for them, with a series of monographs on widely used herbal medicines. Medicinal plants may provide three main kinds of benefit: health benefits to the people who consume them as medicines; financial benefits to people who harvest, process, and distribute them for sale; and society-wide benefits, such as job opportunities, taxation income, and a healthier labour force. However, development of plants or extracts having potential medicinal uses is blunted by weak scientific evidence, poor practices in the process of
drug development Drug development is the process of bringing a new pharmaceutical drug A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug or simply drug) is a drug used to medical diagnosis, diagnose, cure, therapy, treat ...
, and insufficient financing.


Phytochemical basis

All plants produce chemical compounds which give them an
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
ary advantage, such as defending against herbivores or, in the example of
salicylic acid Salicylic acid is an organic compound with the formula HOC6H4CO2H. A colorless, bitter-tasting solid, it is a precursor to and a active metabolite, metabolite of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is a plant hormone, and has been listed by the ...

salicylic acid
, as a
hormone A hormone (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appr ...
in plant defenses. These phytochemicals have potential for use as drugs, and the content and known pharmacological activity of these substances in medicinal plants is the scientific basis for their use in modern medicine, if scientifically confirmed. For instance, daffodils (''
Narcissus Narcissus may refer to: Biology * Narcissus (plant), ''Narcissus'' (plant), a genus containing daffodils and others People * Narcissus (mythology), Greek mythological character * Narcissus (wrestler) (2nd century), assassin of the Roman emperor Co ...
'') contain nine groups of alkaloids including
galantamine Galantamine (sold under the brand name Razadyne and GalantaMind™) is used for the treatment of dementia, cognitive decline in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and various other memory impairments. It is an alkaloid that has been isolated from ...

galantamine
, licensed for use against
Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease (AD), also referred to simply as Alzheimer's, is a neurodegenerative disease A neurodegenerative disease is caused by the progressive loss of structure or function of neuron A neuron or nerve cell is an membrane p ...
. The alkaloids are bitter-tasting and toxic, and concentrated in the parts of the plant such as the stem most likely to be eaten by herbivores; they may also protect against
parasite Parasitism is a Symbiosis, close relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the Host (biology), host, causing it some harm, and is adaptation (biology), adapted structurally to this w ...
s. Modern knowledge of medicinal plants is being systematised in the Medicinal Plant Transcriptomics Database, which by 2011 provided a sequence reference for the
transcriptome The transcriptome is the set of all RNA Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, substance or material consisting of very large molecules, ...
of some thirty species. The major classes of pharmacologically active
phytochemical Phytochemicals are chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together by che ...
s are described below, with examples of medicinal plants that contain them.


Alkaloids

Alkaloids Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language, general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use. The ...

Alkaloids
are bitter-tasting chemicals, very widespread in nature, and often toxic, found in many medicinal plants. There are several classes with different modes of action as drugs, both recreational and pharmaceutical. Medicines of different classes include
atropine Atropine is a tropane alkaloid Tropane alkaloids are a class of bicyclic .2.1alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language, general-pur ...

atropine
,
scopolamine Scopolamine, also known as hyoscine, or Devil's Breath, is a natural or synthetically produced tropane alkaloid and anticholinergic Anticholinergics (anticholinergic agent) are a group of substances that blocks the action of the neurotra ...

scopolamine
, and
hyoscyamine Hyoscyamine (also known as daturine or duboisine) is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid and plant toxin. It is a secondary metabolite found in certain plants of the family Solanaceae, including henbane (''Hyoscyamus niger''), mandrake (''Mandr ...

hyoscyamine
(all from
nightshade The Solanaceae, or nightshades, are a family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of familie ...
), the traditional medicine
berberine Berberine is a quaternary ammonium salt from the protoberberine group of benzylisoquinoline alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language ...

berberine
(from plants such as ''
Berberis ''Berberis'' (), commonly known as barberry, is a large genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defini ...

Berberis
'' and ''
Mahonia ''Mahonia'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a ...

Mahonia
''),
caffeine Caffeine is a central nervous system The central nervous system (CNS) is the part of the nervous system In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

caffeine
(''
Coffea ''Coffea'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circum ...

Coffea
''),
cocaine Cocaine (from , from , ultimately from Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''kúka'') is a tropane alkaloid and stimulant drug obtained primarily from the leaves of two coca species native to South America, ''Erythroxylum coca'' and ''Erythroxylu ...

cocaine
(''
Coca Coca is any of the four cultivated plants in the family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-bei ...

Coca
''),
ephedrine Ephedrine is a medication and stimulant. It is often used to prevent hypotension, low blood pressure during anesthesia. It has also been used for asthma, narcolepsy, and obesity but is not the preferred treatment. It is of unclear benefit in nas ...

ephedrine
(''
Ephedra , an alkaloid found in ephedra Ephedra is a medicinal preparation from the plant '' Ephedra sinica''. Several additional species belonging to the genus ''Ephedra (genus), Ephedra'' have traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, ...
''),
morphine Morphine is a of the family that is found naturally in a dark brown, resinous form, from the poppy plant ('). It can be taken orally or injected. It acts directly on the (CNS) to induce analgesia and alter perception and emotional respons ...

morphine
(
opium poppy ''Papaver somniferum'', commonly known as the opium poppy or breadseed poppy, is a species of flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is deri ...

opium poppy
),
nicotine Nicotine is a naturally produced alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming language In computer science Computer sci ...

nicotine
(
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defini ...

tobacco
),
reserpine Reserpine is a drug that is used for the treatment of high blood pressure Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a long-term Disease, medical condition in which the blood pressure in the artery, arteries is per ...

reserpine
(''
Rauvolfia serpentina ''Rauvolfia serpentina'', the Indian snakeroot, devil pepper, or serpentine wood, is a species of flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the ...
''),
quinidine Quinidine is a medication that acts as a class I antiarrhythmic agent (Ia) in the heart The heart is a muscle, muscular Organ (anatomy), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. The pum ...

quinidine
and
quinine Quinine is a medication used to treat malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced sympto ...

quinine
(''
Cinchona ''Cinchona'' (pronounced or ) is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV class ...
''),
vincamine Vincamine is a monoterpenoid indole alkaloid Indole alkaloids are a class of alkaloids containing a Moiety (chemistry), structural moiety of indole; many indole alkaloids also include isoprene groups and are thus called terpene indole or secologani ...

vincamine
(''
Vinca minor ''Vinca minor'' (common names lesser periwinkle or dwarf periwinkle) is a species of flowering plant in the dogbane family, native plant, native to central and southern Europe, from Portugal and France north to the Netherlands and the Baltic St ...

Vinca minor
''), and
vincristine Vincristine, also known as leurocristine and marketed under the brand name Oncovin among others, is a chemotherapy Chemotherapy (often abbreviated to chemo and sometimes CTX or CTx) is a type of cancer treatment that uses one or more anti-c ...

vincristine
(''
Catharanthus roseus ''Catharanthus roseus'', commonly known as bright eyes, Cape periwinkle, graveyard plant, Madagascar periwinkle, old maid, pink periwinkle, rose periwinkle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae. It is native and endemism, end ...

Catharanthus roseus
''). File:Opium poppy.jpg, The opium poppy ''
Papaver somniferum ''Papaver somniferum'', commonly known as the opium poppy or breadseed poppy, is a species of flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derive ...

Papaver somniferum
'' is the source of the
alkaloids Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language, general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use. The ...

alkaloids
morphine Morphine is a of the family that is found naturally in a dark brown, resinous form, from the poppy plant ('). It can be taken orally or injected. It acts directly on the (CNS) to induce analgesia and alter perception and emotional respons ...

morphine
and
codeine Codeine is an opiate An opiate, in classical pharmacology, is a substance derived from opium Opium (or poppy tears, scientific name: ''Lachryma papaveris'') is dried latex LaTeX ( or , often stylized as LaTeX) is a software syste ...

codeine
. File:Nicotine.svg, The alkaloid
nicotine Nicotine is a naturally produced alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming language In computer science Computer sci ...

nicotine
from
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defini ...

tobacco
binds directly to the body's
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, or nAChRs, are receptor polypeptide Peptides (from Greek language πεπτός, ''peptós'' "digested"; derived from πέσσειν, ''péssein'' "to digest") are short chains of amino acids linked by peptid ...
s, accounting for its pharmacological effects. File:Koeh-018.jpg,
Deadly nightshade ''Atropa belladonna'', commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, is a poisonous perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by p ...
, ''Atropa belladonna'', yields
tropane alkaloid Tropane alkaloids are a class of bicyclic .2.1alkaloids and secondary metabolites that contain a tropane ring in their chemical structure. Tropane alkaloids occur naturally in many members of the plant family Solanaceae. Certain tropane alkalo ...
s including
atropine Atropine is a tropane alkaloid Tropane alkaloids are a class of bicyclic .2.1alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language, general-pur ...

atropine
,
scopolamine Scopolamine, also known as hyoscine, or Devil's Breath, is a natural or synthetically produced tropane alkaloid and anticholinergic Anticholinergics (anticholinergic agent) are a group of substances that blocks the action of the neurotra ...

scopolamine
and
hyoscyamine Hyoscyamine (also known as daturine or duboisine) is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid and plant toxin. It is a secondary metabolite found in certain plants of the family Solanaceae, including henbane (''Hyoscyamus niger''), mandrake (''Mandr ...

hyoscyamine
.


Glycosides

Anthraquinone Anthraquinone, also called anthracenedione or dioxoanthracene, is an aromatic In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or ...

Anthraquinone
glycosides In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in ...
are found in medicinal plants such as
rhubarb Rhubarb is the fleshy, edible stalks ( petioles) of species and hybrids (culinary rhubarb) of '' Rheum'' in the family Polygonaceae The Polygonaceae are a family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals ...

rhubarb
, cascara, and Alexandrian senna. Plant-based
laxative Laxatives, purgatives, or aperients are substances that loosen stools and increase bowel movements frame, Anatomy of the anus and rectum Defecation is the final act of digestion Digestion is the breakdown of large insoluble food Food ...
s made from such plants include
senna Senna may refer to: Individuals * Ayrton Senna (1960–1994), Brazilian F1 driver and triple World Champion * Bruno Senna (born 1983), F1 driver and nephew of Ayrton Senna * Viviane Senna (born 1958), IAS president and sister of Ayrton Senna * D ...
,
rhubarb Rhubarb is the fleshy, edible stalks ( petioles) of species and hybrids (culinary rhubarb) of '' Rheum'' in the family Polygonaceae The Polygonaceae are a family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals ...

rhubarb
and ''
Aloe ''Aloe'' ( , ), also written ''Aloë'', is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circum ...

Aloe
''. The
cardiac glycoside Cardiac glycosides are a class of organic compounds that increase the output force of the heart and decrease its rate of contractions by acting on the cellular sodium-potassium ATPase pump. Their beneficial medical uses are as treatments for conges ...
s are powerful drugs from medicinal plants including
foxglove '' ''Digitalis'' ( or ) is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous plant, herbaceous perennial plants, shrubs, and Biennial plant, biennials, commonly called foxgloves. ''Digitalis'' is native to Europe, western Asia, and northwestern Afri ...

foxglove
and
lily of the valley Lily of the valley, ''Convallaria majalis'' (), sometimes written lily-of-the-valley, is a woodland flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plant ...

lily of the valley
. They include
digoxin Digoxin, sold under the brand name Lanoxin among others, is a medication used to treat various heart conditions. Most frequently it is used for atrial fibrillation Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) c ...

digoxin
and
digitoxin Digitoxin is a cardiac glycoside. It is a phytosteroid and is similar in structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or int ...

digitoxin
which support the beating of the heart, and act as
diuretic A diuretic () is any substance that promotes diuresis Diuresis () is increased urination Urination is the release of urine from the urinary bladder through the urethra to the outside of the body. It is the urinary system's form of excretio ...
s. File:Senna alexandrina Mill.-Cassia angustifolia L. (Senna Plant).jpg, ''
Senna alexandrina ''Senna alexandrina'' (Alexandrian senna, in Arabic عشرج or عشرق or سنامكي and see below) is an ornamental plant plant Ornamental plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design project ...
'', containing anthraquinone glycosides, has been used as a
laxative Laxatives, purgatives, or aperients are substances that loosen stools and increase bowel movements frame, Anatomy of the anus and rectum Defecation is the final act of digestion Digestion is the breakdown of large insoluble food Food ...
for millennia. Digitalis purpurea2.jpg, The
foxglove '' ''Digitalis'' ( or ) is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous plant, herbaceous perennial plants, shrubs, and Biennial plant, biennials, commonly called foxgloves. ''Digitalis'' is native to Europe, western Asia, and northwestern Afri ...

foxglove
, ''Digitalis purpurea'', contains
digoxin Digoxin, sold under the brand name Lanoxin among others, is a medication used to treat various heart conditions. Most frequently it is used for atrial fibrillation Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) c ...

digoxin
, a
cardiac glycoside Cardiac glycosides are a class of organic compounds that increase the output force of the heart and decrease its rate of contractions by acting on the cellular sodium-potassium ATPase pump. Their beneficial medical uses are as treatments for conges ...
. The plant was used on heart conditions long before the glycoside was identified. File:Digoxin.svg,
Digoxin Digoxin, sold under the brand name Lanoxin among others, is a medication used to treat various heart conditions. Most frequently it is used for atrial fibrillation Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) c ...

Digoxin
is used to treat
atrial fibrillation Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterized by the rapid and irregular beating of the atrial chambers of the heart. It often begins as short periods of abnormal beating, which become longer or con ...

atrial fibrillation
,
atrial flutter Atrial flutter (AFL) is a common abnormal heart rhythm that starts in the atrial chambers of the heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the c ...
and sometimes
heart failure Heart failure (HF), also known as congestive heart failure (CHF) and (congestive) cardiac failure (CCF), is a set of manifestations caused by the failure of the heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in mo ...
.


Polyphenols

Polyphenol Polyphenols () are a large family of naturally occurring organic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their com ...

Polyphenol
s of several classes are widespread in plants, having diverse roles in defenses against plant diseases and predators. They include hormone-mimicking
phytoestrogenA phytoestrogen is a plant-derived xenoestrogen (see estrogen Estrogen, or oestrogen, is a category of sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. There are ...
s and astringent
tannin Tannins (or tannoids) are a class of astringent 200px, A crystal of the astringent alum An astringent (sometimes called adstringent) is a chemical that shrinks or constricts body tissue In biology Biology is the natural scie ...
s. Plants containing phytoestrogens have been administered for centuries for gynecological disorders, such as fertility, menstrual, and menopausal problems. Among these plants are ''
Pueraria ''Pueraria'' is a genus of 15–20 species of plants native to Asia Asia () is a landmass variously described as part of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally id ...
mirifica'',
kudzu Kudzu (also called Japanese arrowroot or Chinese arrowroot) is a group of climbing, coiling, and trailing perennial vines native to much of East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most po ...

kudzu
,
angelica 220px, Wild angelica (''Angelica sylvestris'') from Thomé, ''Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz'' 1885 ''Angelica'' is a genus of about 60 species of tall Biennial plant, biennial and Perennial plant, perennial herbaceous, herbs ...

angelica
,
fennel Fennel (''Foeniculum vulgare'') is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: ...

fennel
, and
anise Anise (, ; '), also called aniseed or rarely anix, is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek Greek may refer t ...

anise
. Many polyphenolic extracts, such as from
grape seed A grape is a fruit, botanically a berry (botany), berry, of the deciduous woody vines of the flowering plant genus ''Vitis''. Grapes can be eaten fresh as table grapes or they can be used for making wine, jam, grape juice, Jelly (fruit preserv ...
s,
olive The olive, botanical name ''Olea europaea'', meaning "European olive", is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodivers ...

olive
s or maritime pine bark, are sold as
dietary supplement A dietary supplement is a manufactured product intended to supplement one's diet by taking a pill Pill or The Pill may refer to: Drugs * Pill (pharmacy) A tablet is a pharmaceutical A medication (also referred to as medicine, ...
s and
cosmetics Cosmetics are constituted mixtures of chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and take ...
without proof or legal
health claim A health claim on a food label and in food marketing is a claim by a manufacturer of food products that their food will reduce the health risk, risk of developing a disease or condition. For example, it is claimed by the manufacturers of oat cereals ...
s for beneficial health effects. In
Ayurveda Ayurveda () is an alternative medicine Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine Medicine is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systema ...

Ayurveda
, the astringent rind of the
pomegranate The pomegranate (''Punica granatum'') is a fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who spec ...

pomegranate
, containing polyphenols called s, is used as a medicine. File:Angelica sylvestris 3.jpg,
Angelica 220px, Wild angelica (''Angelica sylvestris'') from Thomé, ''Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz'' 1885 ''Angelica'' is a genus of about 60 species of tall Biennial plant, biennial and Perennial plant, perennial herbaceous, herbs ...
, containing
phytoestrogenA phytoestrogen is a plant-derived xenoestrogen (see estrogen Estrogen, or oestrogen, is a category of sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. There are ...
s, has long been used for gynaecological disorders. File:Phytoestrogens2.png,
Polyphenol Polyphenols () are a large family of naturally occurring organic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their com ...

Polyphenol
s include
phytoestrogenA phytoestrogen is a plant-derived xenoestrogen (see estrogen Estrogen, or oestrogen, is a category of sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. There are ...
s (top and middle), mimics of animal
estrogen Estrogens or oestrogens, are a class of natural or synthetic sex hormone Sex hormones, also known as sex steroids, gonadocorticoids and gonadal steroids, are steroid hormone A steroid hormone is a steroid that acts as a hormone. Steroid ho ...

estrogen
(bottom).


Terpenes

Terpenes Terpenes () are a class of natural product A natural product is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than ...
and
terpenoids The terpenoids, also known as isoprenoids, are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals derived from the 5-carbon compound isoprene, and the isoprene polymers A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") ...
of many kinds are found in a variety of medicinal plants, and in
resin In polymer chemistry Polymer chemistry is a sub-discipline of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, stru ...

resin
ous plants such as the
conifers Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants The spermatophytes (; ), also known as phanerogams (taxon Phanerogamae) or phaenogams (taxon Phaenogamae), comprise those plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesi ...

conifers
. They are strongly aromatic and serve to repel herbivores. Their scent makes them useful in
essential oils An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, s ...
, whether for
perfume Perfume (, ; french: parfum) is a mixture of fragrance, fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds (fragrances), Fixative (perfumery), fixatives and solvents, usually in liquid form, used to give the human body, animals, food, objects, and livin ...

perfume
s such as
rose A rose is a woody perennial plant, perennial flowering plant of the genus ''Rosa'', in the family Rosaceae, or the flower it bears. There are over three hundred Rose species, species and Garden roses, tens of thousands of cultivars. They form ...

rose
and
lavender ''Lavandula'' (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint Family (biology), family, Lamiaceae. It is native plant, native to the Old World and is found in Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, and from Euro ...

lavender
, or for
aromatherapy Aromatherapy is a pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of ...

aromatherapy
. Some have medicinal uses: for example,
thymol Thymol (also known as 2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol, IPMP) is a natural Monoterpene, monoterpenoid Phenols, phenol derivative of p-Cymene, ''p''-Cymene, C10H14O, isomeric with carvacrol, found in oil of thyme, and Liquid–liquid extraction, extra ...

thymol
is an antiseptic and was once used as a
vermifuge Anthelmintics or antihelminthics are a group of antiparasitic drugs that expel parasitic worms (helminths Parasitic worms, also known as helminths, are large macroparasites; adults can generally be seen with the naked eye. Many are intestina ...
(anti-worm medicine). File:Thymian.jpg, The
essential oil An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matte ...
of common thyme (''Thymus vulgaris''), contains the
monoterpene Monoterpenes are a class of terpenes that consist of two isoprene units and have the molecular formula C10H16. Monoterpenes may be linear (acyclic) or contain rings (monocyclic and bicyclic). Modified terpenes, such as those containing oxygen funct ...
thymol Thymol (also known as 2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol, IPMP) is a natural Monoterpene, monoterpenoid Phenols, phenol derivative of p-Cymene, ''p''-Cymene, C10H14O, isomeric with carvacrol, found in oil of thyme, and Liquid–liquid extraction, extra ...

thymol
, an
antiseptic Antiseptics (from Greek ἀντί ''anti'', "against" and σηπτικός ''sēptikos'', "putrefactive") are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cel ...

antiseptic
and
antifungal An antifungal medication, also known as an antimycotic medication, is a pharmaceutical A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug or simply drug) is a drug used to medical diagnosis, diagnose, cur ...
. File:Thymol2.svg, Thymol is one of many
terpene Terpenes () are a class of natural products consisting of compounds with the formula (C5H8)n. Comprising more than 30,000 compounds, these unsaturated hydrocarbons are produced predominantly by plant Plants are mainly multicellular organ ...
s found in plants.


In practice


Cultivation

Medicinal plants demand intensive management. Different species each require their own distinct conditions of cultivation. The
World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the co-ordinating machinery of the Unit ...
recommends the use of
rotation A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. The plane (geometry), geometric plane along which the rotation occurs is called the ''rotation plane'', and the imaginary line extending from the center an ...
to minimise problems with pests and plant diseases. Cultivation may be traditional or may make use of
conservation agriculture Conservation agriculture (CA) can be defined by a statement given by the Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agricu ...
practices to maintain organic matter in the soil and to conserve water, for example with
no-till farming No-till farming (also known as zero tillage or direct drilling) is an agricultural technique for growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ...
systems. In many medicinal and aromatic plants, plant characteristics vary widely with soil type and cropping strategy, so care is required to obtain satisfactory yields.


Preparation

Medicinal plants are often tough and fibrous, requiring some form of preparation to make them convenient to administer. According to the Institute for Traditional Medicine, common methods for the preparation of herbal medicines include
decoction Decoction is a method of extraction by boiling herbal A herbal is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their medicinal, tonic, culinary, toxic Toxicity is the degree to which a chemical subst ...
, powdering, and extraction with alcohol, in each case yielding a mixture of substances. Decoction involves crushing and then boiling the plant material in water to produce a liquid extract that can be taken orally or applied topically. Powdering involves drying the plant material and then crushing it to yield a powder that can be compressed into tablets. Alcohol extraction involves soaking the plant material in cold wine or distilled spirit to form a
tincture A tincture is typically an extract An extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material A raw material, also known as a feedstock, unprocessed material, or primary commodity, is a basic material that is used to produce ...
. Traditional
poultice A poultice, also called a cataplasm, is a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated, that is spread on cloth and placed over the skin to treat an aching, inflamed or pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimu ...
s were made by boiling medicinal plants, wrapping them in a cloth, and applying the resulting parcel externally to the affected part of the body. When modern medicine has identified a drug in a medicinal plant, commercial quantities of the drug may either be or extracted from plant material, yielding a pure chemical. Extraction can be practical when the compound in question is complex.


Usage

Plant medicines are in wide use around the world. In most of the developing world, especially in rural areas, local
traditional medicine Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic gr ...

traditional medicine
, including herbalism, is the only source of health care for people, while in the
developed world A developed country (or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country (MEDC), advanced country) is a sovereign state that has a high quality of life, developed economy and advanced technological infrastructu ...
,
alternative medicine Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is Argument from ignorance, untested, Pseudoscience, untestable or proven ineffective. Complementary medicin ...
including use of
dietary supplements A dietary supplement is a manufactured product intended to supplement one's diet by taking a pill Pill or The Pill may refer to: Drugs * Pill (pharmacy) A tablet is a pharmaceutical A medication (also referred to as medicine, ...
is marketed aggressively using the claims of traditional medicine. As of 2015, most products made from medicinal plants had not been tested for their safety and efficacy, and products that were marketed in developed economies and provided in the undeveloped world by traditional healers were of uneven quality, sometimes containing dangerous contaminants.
Traditional Chinese medicine#REDIRECT Traditional Chinese medicine {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
makes use of a wide variety of plants, among other materials and techniques. Researchers from
Kew Gardens Kew Gardens is a botanical garden, botanic garden in southwest London that houses the "largest and most diverse botany, botanical and mycology, mycological collections in the world". Founded in 1840, from the exotic garden at Kew Park, its li ...

Kew Gardens
found 104 species used for
diabetes Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as just diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorder A metabolic disorder is a disorder that negatively alters the body's processing and distribution of macronutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrate ...

diabetes
in Central America, of which seven had been identified in at least three separate studies. The
Yanomami The Yanomami, also spelled Yąnomamö or Yanomama, are a group of approximately 35,000 indigenous people who live in some 200–250 villages in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Venezuela and Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), offi ...
of the Brazilian Amazon, assisted by researchers, have described 101 plant species used for traditional medicines. Drugs derived from plants including opiates, cocaine and cannabis have both medical and recreational uses. Different countries have at various times made use of illegal drugs, partly on the basis of the risks involved in taking
psychoactive drug A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, psychoactive agent, or psychotropic drug, is a chemical substance that changes nervous system function and results in alterations in perception, mood (psychology), mood, consciousness, cognition, or beha ...
s.


Effectiveness

Plant medicines have often not been tested systematically, but have come into use informally over the centuries. By 2007, clinical trials had demonstrated potentially useful activity in nearly 16% of herbal medicines; there was limited in vitro or in vivo evidence for roughly half the medicines; there was only phytochemical evidence for around 20%; 0.5% were allergenic or toxic; and some 12% had basically never been studied scientifically. Cancer Research UK caution that there is no reliable evidence for the effectiveness of herbal remedies for cancer. A 2012
phylogenetic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...

phylogenetic
study built a family tree down to genus (biology), genus level using 20,000 species to compare the medicinal plants of three regions, Nepal, New Zealand and the South African Cape. It discovered that the species used traditionally to treat the same types of condition belonged to the same groups of plants in all three regions, giving a "strong phylogenetic signal". Since many plants that yield pharmaceutical drugs belong to just these groups, and the groups were independently used in three different world regions, the results were taken to mean 1) that these plant groups do have potential for medicinal efficacy, 2) that undefined pharmacological activity is associated with use in traditional medicine, and 3) that the use of a phylogenetic groups for medicines in one region may predict their use in the other regions.


Regulation

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been coordinating a network called the International Regulatory Cooperation for Herbal Medicines to try to improve the quality of medical products made from medicinal plants and the claims made for them. In 2015, only around 20% of countries had well-functioning regulatory agencies, while 30% had none, and around half had limited regulatory capacity. In India, where
Ayurveda Ayurveda () is an alternative medicine Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine Medicine is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systema ...

Ayurveda
has been practised for centuries, herbal remedies are the responsibility of a government department, AYUSH, under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. WHO has set out a strategy for traditional medicines with four objectives: to integrate them as policy into national healthcare systems; to provide knowledge and guidance on their safety, efficacy, and quality; to increase their availability and affordability; and to promote their rational, therapeutically sound usage. WHO notes in the strategy that countries are experiencing seven challenges to such implementation, namely in developing and enforcing policy; in integration; in safety and quality, especially in assessment of products and qualification of practitioners; in controlling advertising; in research and development; in education and training; and in the sharing of information.


Drug discovery

The pharmaceutical industry has roots in the apothecary shops of Europe in the 1800s, where pharmacists provided local traditional medicines to customers, which included extracts like morphine, quinine, and strychnine. Therapeutically important drugs like camptothecin (from ''Camptotheca acuminata'', used in traditional Chinese medicine) and Paclitaxel, taxol (from the Pacific yew, ''Taxus brevifolia'') were derived from medicinal plants. The Vinca alkaloids
vincristine Vincristine, also known as leurocristine and marketed under the brand name Oncovin among others, is a chemotherapy Chemotherapy (often abbreviated to chemo and sometimes CTX or CTx) is a type of cancer treatment that uses one or more anti-c ...

vincristine
and vinblastine, used as anti-cancer drugs, were discovered in the 1950s from the Madagascar periwinkle, ''
Catharanthus roseus ''Catharanthus roseus'', commonly known as bright eyes, Cape periwinkle, graveyard plant, Madagascar periwinkle, old maid, pink periwinkle, rose periwinkle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae. It is native and endemism, end ...

Catharanthus roseus
''. Hundreds of compounds have been identified using
ethnobotany at work in the Amazon (~1940s) Ethnobotany is the study of a region's plants and their practical uses through the traditional knowledge of a local culture and people. An ethnobotanist thus strives to document the local customs involving the practi ...
, investigating plants used by indigenous peoples for possible medical applications. Some important phytochemicals, including
curcumin Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by plants of the ''Curcuma longa'' species. It is the principal curcuminoid Image:Bisdemethoxycurcumin.png, 200px, Bisdemethoxycurcumin A curcuminoid is a linear diarylheptanoid, a relatively ...

curcumin
, epigallocatechin gallate, genistein and resveratrol are pan-assay interference compounds, meaning that ''in vitro'' studies of their activity often provide unreliable data. As a result, phytochemicals have frequently proven unsuitable as lead compounds in drug discovery. In the United States over the period 1999 to 2012, despite several hundred applications for New drug application, new drug status, only two botanical drug candidates had sufficient evidence of medicinal value to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The pharmaceutical industry has remained interested in mining traditional uses of medicinal plants in its drug discovery efforts. Of the 1073 small-molecule drugs approved in the period 1981 to 2010, over half were either directly derived from or inspired by natural substances. Among cancer treatments, of 185 small-molecule drugs approved in the period from 1981 to 2019, 65% were derived from or inspired by natural substances.


Safety

Plant medicines can cause adverse effects and even death, whether by side-effects of their active substances, by adulteration or contamination, by overdose, or by inappropriate prescription. Many such effects are known, while others remain to be explored scientifically. There is no reason to presume that because a product comes from nature it must be safe: the existence of powerful natural poisons like atropine and nicotine shows this to be untrue. Further, the high standards applied to conventional medicines do not always apply to plant medicines, and dose can vary widely depending on the growth conditions of plants: older plants may be much more toxic than young ones, for instance. Pharmacologically active plant extracts can interact with conventional drugs, both because they may provide an increased dose of similar compounds, and because some phytochemicals interfere with the body's systems that metabolise drugs in the liver including the cytochrome P450 system, making the drugs last longer in the body and have a more powerful cumulative effect. Plant medicines can be dangerous during pregnancy. Since plants may contain many different substances, plant extracts may have complex effects on the human body.


Quality, advertising, and labelling

Herbal medicine and
dietary supplement A dietary supplement is a manufactured product intended to supplement one's diet by taking a pill Pill or The Pill may refer to: Drugs * Pill (pharmacy) A tablet is a pharmaceutical A medication (also referred to as medicine, ...
products have been criticized as not having sufficient standards or scientific evidence to confirm their contents, safety, and presumed efficacy. A 2013 study found that one-third of herbal products sampled contained no trace of the herb listed on the label, and other products were adulteration, adulterated with unlisted filler (materials), fillers including potential allergens.


Threats

Where medicinal plants are harvested from the wild rather than cultivated, they are subject to both general and specific threats. General threats include
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
and habitat destruction, habitat loss to development and agriculture. A specific threat is over-collection to meet rising demand for medicines. A case in point was the pressure on wild populations of the Pacific yew soon after news of taxol's effectiveness became public. The threat from over-collection could be addressed by cultivation of some medicinal plants, or by a system of certification to make wild harvesting sustainable. A report in 2020 by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew identifies 723 medicinal plants as being at risk of extinction, caused partly by over-collection.


See also

* Ethnomedicine * European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products


Notes


References

{{Authority control Medicinal plants, Medicinal plants