1st Edition

Modern Medicines from Plants Botanical histories of some of modern medicine’s most important drugs

Edited By Henry Oakeley Copyright 2024
    394 Pages 171 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    394 Pages 171 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

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

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


    • Written for people interested in medicinal plants, where medicines come from, and how they treat our diseases
    • Contains information on 50 plants, mostly growing in the medicinal garden of the Royal College of Physicians in London, describing how they became the source of modern pharmaceutical medicines
    • Describes medicinal uses of plants in Classical Greece as written by Dioscorides, Pliny and Galen, through the flowering of Arabic medicine by physicians such as Paulus Aegineta, Mesue and Avicenna to the 12th to 14th century compilations of Serapion and Sylvaticus and the European Renaissance of Peter Treveris, William Turner, Leonard Fuchs, Pietro Mattioli, John Gerarde, John Parkinson, Nicholas Culpeper, and many others to the pharmacopoeias of the 16th century to the present day
    • Fully referenced including a glossary for explanation of technical terms

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


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

    Anthony Dayan was Professor of Toxicology in the University of London at Queen Mary University, London. He has been involved with the development and regulation of drugs and the safety of consumer products for more than 40 years in universities, official agencies in many countries and in the pharmaceutical industry. He has been Chairman of the British Toxicology Society and in 2014 the American College of Toxicology elected him Distinguished Scientist of the Year. He has been a Garden Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians since 2014, a co-author of A Garden of Medicinal Plants [50 plants in the College Garden from the history of Medicine]. He catalogued the Pharmaceutical Society Herbarium at the College with Professor Michael de Swiet. He has a particular interest in the historical aspects of the dual use of certain plants as foods and medicines. He has lectured to many University of the Third Age (U3A) groups and other organisations on toxic risks and on plants and medicines.

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