1st Edition

Botanical Miracles Chemistry of Plants That Changed the World

By Raymond Cooper, Jeffrey John Deakin Copyright 2016
    284 Pages 144 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    304 Pages 144 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    As the shortcomings of purely synthetic approaches to biochemical discovery and development are becoming more apparent, a renaissance of interest in the chemistry of natural products as sources for new compounds is occurring. A unique approach to natural products chemistry, Botanical Miracles: Chemistry of Plants That Changed the World relates applications of plant extracts to the historical progress of civilization. It focuses on selected plants from around the world, connecting their stories and properties to the development of modern marvels such as medicinal compounds, nutrition products, beverages, perfumes and organic pigments. Each chapter describes a particular group of plant extracts from various perspectives, including their chemistry, interest and value to man and historical background. The ends of the chapters pose challenging questions.

    Introducing plants that are emerging into more prominent roles in human life and addressing current challenges, Botanical Miracles presents a fascinating point of entry to the chemistry of important natural products. It examines plants and their extracts through the key functional groups, building blocks and concepts of organic chemistry. This book provides, in a single source, information and learning opportunities of value to a wide range of individuals involved in the fields of chemistry, medicine, nutrition or cosmetics whether they be students, educators, researchers or those who simply wish to extend their horizons.

    Aims and Purpose
    Importance and Role of Natural Products
    Organic Chemistry

    Medical Marvels
    Central America’s Humble Potato!
    Europe Solves a Headache! Emergence of Aspirin
    Attacking Malaria: A South American Treasure (but Not Gold) and a Chinese Miracle
    A Steroid in Your Garden
    Africa’s Gift to the World
    Saving the Pacific Yew Tree

    Modern Miracles of Foods and Ancient Grains
    Rediscovering Traditional Grains of the Americas: Chia and Quinoa
    Foods of the Fertile Crescent: Ancient Wheat
    Asian Staple: Rice
    Chinese Cordyceps: Winter Worm, Summer Grass
    Garlic and Pungent Smells

    Tea: From Legend to Healthy Obsession!
    Cocoa (Cacao): Food of the Gods
    Coffee: Wake Up and Smell the Aroma!
    Maca from the High Andes in South America

    Morphine: A Two-Edged Sword
    Cannabis and Marijuana
    Coca and Cocaine
    Tobacco: A Profound Impact on the World

    Exotic Potions, Lotions and Oils
    A Plant from the East Indies: Camphor
    Biblical Resins: Frankincense and Myrrh
    European Lavender
    Global Aloe

    Colorful Chemistry: A Natural Palette of Plant Dyes and Pigments
    Our World of Green Plants: Human Survival
    Saffron and Carotenoids: Yellow and Orange Dyes
    Woad (Isatis tinctoria) and Indigo
    Red Dyes from Henna, Dyer’s Bugloss and Madder
    Reversible Colors in Flowers, Berries and Fruit


    Raymond Cooper is a visiting professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He earned his PhD in organic chemistry from the Weizmann Institute in Israel. His dissertation researched the ancient wild wheats of the Middle East, examining their germinating properties and chemical profiles. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University, New York, he spent 15 years in drug discovery research of plant and microbial natural products in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He then moved to the nutraceutical and dietary supplements industry to develop botanicals from traditional Chinese medicine including ginkgo, cordyceps, red yeast rice, green tea and many other botanical medicines. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom, an honorary visiting professor at the College of Pharmacy, University of London, and a member of the American Pharmacognosy Society. He has published over 120 research papers, edited five books and coauthored the book Natural Products Chemistry: Sources, Separations and Structures. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and received the American Society of Pharmacognosy 2014 Varro Tyler Award for Contributions to Botanical Research.

    Jeffrey Deakin earned a first class honors degree in chemistry from the University of London followed by a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Cambridge. He has headed the chemistry and physics departments in grammar and comprehensive schools in the United Kingdom. He was a founding member and non-executive director of a multi-academy educational trust, formally approved by the Department for Education in the UK, which aims to secure and sustain school improvement by providing leadership and support, by working with governing bodies to strengthen their leadership and strategic delivery and through contracted work with school leaders and their teams. At the same time he was also the chairman of the governing body of one of the largest academies in the secondary sector of education within the United Kingdom. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom and is also a member of the Curriculum and Assessment Working Group at the Royal Society of Chemistry which is reviewing the national curriculum in chemistry in each of the four home nations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    'Botanical Miracles: Chemistry of Plants That Changed the World…beautifully makes the case for how natural products have impacted on our lives, culture and development. Drs. Cooper and Deakin have put together a fine and highly readable text, and it is with great confidence that this lovely book can be recommended to those who wish to further appreciate the magnificent contributions of plants and natural products to our world, health, security and comfort.'
    Prof. Simon Gibbons, from the Foreword.

    'I have been fascinated by the concept and the eventual publication of Botanical Miracles: Chemistry of Plants that Changed the World. I feel that this is without question a brilliant book which brings together organic chemistry, real life contexts and has information that will inspire the best organic chemists as well as non-scientific people with an interest in plant biochemistry. The book will engage many people far and wide well beyond its primary audience of young students.

    It is beautifully organized and accessible and each chapter has its own story that entices the reader to continue. It is so refreshing to see organic chemistry presented in real contexts and to be able to learn about progress in terms of pharmaceutical developments and associated issues. The book is all encompassing as it contains academic knowledge about the topic plants, has challenging questions, a glossary and a fantastic index.

    A thoroughly-good reference book that will stimulate the interest and enthusiasm of all readers!'
    Dr. Gaynor Sharp, Regional Co-ordinator, Association for Science Education (ASE).

    'Botanical miracles is a well written book that presents in a clear and easy to read format a wealth of information on a wide ranging number of plants and molecules, the names of which will be familiar to readers of all ages. As well as describing the structure and chemistry of the molecule or plant under discussion, of particular interest is the insight the authors give the reader into the history of a molecule’s use and/or discovery. Relevant chemistry from the targeted ‘A-level’ or pre-university level of study is then discussed before readers are presented with a number of well thought out questions written to stimulate further thought and discussion. The social implications discussed provide excellent material for general studies lessons and cross-curricula links.

    Botanical miracles is a first class reference book that students of biology or chemistry should be encouraged to dip in to throughout their studies. The material covered will not only enhance their learning beyond the limits of the curriculum but will also encourage them, at the start of their careers, to consider the wider role that science plays in society.'
    — Dr. Catherine Smith, Head of Science at John Cleveland College, Hinckley, Leicestershire, UK.

    'The content of this book is well suited to A-level chemistry and introductory university courses, and would be a valuable resource to both teachers and students wanting to go beyond the specification. It fills a niche in the market….'
    Simon Cotton, for Education in Chemistry, September 2016.

    ‘... the fundamental chemistry of natural products that have had a significant social, economic, or medical impact on the world is covered well overall. I especially appreciate the historical anecdotes that provide the "story behind the molecule" in some cases. Botanical Miracles is a good read, and I recommend it for undergraduate and graduate organic and/or natural products chemistry students and educators.’
    — Nancy L. Booth, PhD., for HerbalGram, vol. 113.

    ‘This is an interesting and unique book. The authors have chosen a number of plants that are widely grown throughout the world and whose constituents have had a significant influence on the world, either for their food value, medical importance, decorative value, or social impact. … This book will be a valuable adjunct to a course in chemistry (at any level) and also to a course in biology. It can also be easily read and understood by a reader at any level, with or without a science background.

    Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.’
    A. Fry, Wesleyan University, for CHOICE, June 2017 Vol. 54 No. 10.

    ‘The book, reporting the daily use of the plant products from every corner of the globe represents a valuable source of innovative knowledge for all scientists, marketing managers, and university students of both the medical and chemical community who wish to learn and appreciate in simple and practical ways the magic biology and chemistry of plants with the extraordinary diversity of use and range of properties their active ingredients have.’
    — P. Morganti, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Applied Cosmetology