Monday, March 19, 2018

25 - 50% of effective drugs we currently rely upon are derived from plants....

Mother nature wears a coat of many colors!  While I am not about to endorse a "natural" treatment for melanoma just because it sounds sweet with absolutely no supporting data,  I am still the girl who eats more fruits and veggies than most, refuses to prescribe unneeded medications for my little patients, grows her own fruits and flowers, and loves hiking and running through the beauty our natural world provides.  Additionally, in case you think my "Everything cures melanoma!!" posts are sarcastic, uninformed or lacking in hope, I fully realize that 25-50% of all effective, current medications we use are plant based.

Vincristine (Here's a post on that one: Everything cures melanoma - and then there's vincristine!! ), ephedrine, and penicillin are medications that have figured largely in my career as I have worked to take care of my little patients for the past 34 years!!  Here's a tiny historical retrospective, on a few of the drugs you and I (or someone we love) use everyday, based on the MedScape article -  From Folk to pharma:  Natural Remedies that became medications, by Jennifer Leavitt, 10/2/2017:

Cinchona bark, from Peru, led to the development of quinine in Europe in 1640.  It has been essential in treating malaria.  In 1912, it was serendipitously found to be useful in treating arrhythmias as well!

The Greeks, Egyptians, and those in ancient India used mold to treat infections.  In the 1600's, folks in Poland and Russia applied a combo of wet bread and spider webs to wounds to aid healing.  In the 1870's, Sir John Scott Burdon-Sanderson and Joseph Lister noted that cultures contaminated with mold grew no further bacteria.  By 1928, Alexander Fleming, identified the protective mold as Penicillium notatum.  He spent years sending out samples to try to find someone who could mass produce it in a stable form.  In 1938, the isolate was purified and penicillin...the first antibiotic...still essential to human lives today, was developed.

As early as 1785, Digitalis purpura, Foxglove, was used to treat edema and tuberculosis.  Later, it was identified as a treatment for congestive heart failure, leading to the drug digoxin, still an essential drug in the treatment of a-fib and atrial flutter.

Native Americans crushed the needles of the Pacific Yew to use as an anti-inflammatory.  Use had to be carefully managed because the seeds were lethal!  In the 1960's, the cytotoxic properties of these needles were discovered, leading to the isolation of Paclitaxel, which was FDA approved in 1992.  It remains a critical drug in the treatment of breast cancer and Kaposi sarcoma.

Bark from the white willow was used in 400 BC Europe and China to decrease swelling, headache, and fever.  Ancient Egyptians and Assyrians found it a hot commodity in trade.  In 1763 it was found to be effective in treating malaria. Meanwhile....

...Meadow Sweet was used by Celtic and Druid priests in a similar fashion. Later, both meadow sweet and willow bark were found to be sources of Salicylic acid.  Aspirin!!!

Red yeast rice, made by pouring fermented yeast over red rice, was utilized as for its nutritional and medicinal properties for hundreds of years in China.  Later, the combination was found to possess statin-like chemicals.

The American Mandrake, or Mayapple, was first used in the 19th century for its healing powers, especially in the treatment of warts.  In 1835 Dr. John King identified it's compounds and etoposide was created in 1966.  In 1983 the FDA approved this drug for the treatment of cancer - to include lung, Kaposi, testicular, Ewing's, lymphoma, glioblastoma and multiforme cancers.

Poppy leaves and seeds have long been used to aid in rest and sleep.  Opium was isolated in the 19th century leading to the development of codeine and morphine.

The use of ephaedra dates back 5000 years to the treatment of hay fever, colds, and asthma in China!

Camphor was used by the ancients to decrease inflammation and sprains.  It was used in India to treat fever and diarrhea, and with some success in the treatment of cholera in the Naples epidemic of 1854.

And finally, there's good old grain alcohol, used by all sorts of folks for centuries.  In 1831 the inhalation of ether was used for sedation and the use of nitrous oxide in 1844 lead to the development of present day anesthesia.

So, YES!!!  I am a full, wholehearted believer in the power of natural remedies!  I am also a wholehearted believer in the power of snake venom, poison ivy, arsenic, and hemlock.  Man has the power to study and realize the positive and negative effects of all nature's bounty!!!   We would be incredibly foolish to allow the continued loss of acres of rain forest, both for the injury to that individual ecosystem as well as the damage such a loss would inflict on climates across the globe, but  also for the loss of potentially curative plant and animal compounds the bounty of nature has bestowed upon it as well.  (Yes, I am also a huge fan of the film, Medicine Man!  No, not for Sean Connery!!!  For the ants!!!  Okay...and Sean Connery!)

So, Mother Nature ~ Thank you!  Yeah, you gave us the plague and melanoma...but you gave us a lot of other cool stuff, too. I will continue to enjoy your beauty and admire your majesty.  I will also remain a strong advocate for melanoma peeps in real time.  If your bounty will cure us...I will be the first to scream it here and everywhere else I can find an audience.  Until then, I will enjoy your honey and feed your bees with my flowers, blueberries and other pollinator friendly plants.  I will not spray pesticides or harm your critters.  And when we find a cure to melanoma from any of your minions...well, let's just say...the promotion will be HUGE!!! - c

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