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Medicinal Plants and Herbs

(Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A. - Alvin Wei-Cheng Wong)


- Overview

Since antiquity, cultures on nearly every continent have discovered that certain plant leaves, when chewed or brewed or rubbed on the body, could relieve diverse ailments, inspire hallucinations or, in higher dosages, even cause death. 

Today, we live in a time when manufactured medicines and prescriptions prevail, but do they have to be the only approach to healing? Even with all of these engineered options at our fingertips, many people find themselves turning back to the medicinal plants that started it all: Herbal remedies that have the ability to heal and boost physical and mental well-being. In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, 11% of the 252 drugs considered “basic and essential” by the World Health Organization were “exclusively of flowering plant origin.” Drugs like codeine, quinine, and morphine all contain plant-derived ingredients. 

Herbal plants have been used for centuries to cure all sorts of ailments. And, even though modern medicine has improved our lives considerably, both modern medicine and alternative medicine still rely on the age-old healing properties found in medicinal herbs. 

Please check out [Wikipedia: List of Plants Used in Herbalism] for more details.


- Stanford Scientists Turn Yeast Cells Into Drug Factories

Today, pharmaceutical companies import these once-rare plants from specialized farms and extract their active chemical compounds to make drugs like scopolamine for relieving motion sickness and postoperative nausea, and atropine, to curb the drooling associated with Parkinson’s disease or help maintain cardiac function when intubating COVID-19 patients and placing them on ventilators

Now, Stanford engineers are recreating these ancient remedies in a thoroughly modern way by genetically reprogramming the cellular machinery of a special strain of yeast, effectively transforming them into microscopic factories that convert sugars and amino acids into these folkloric drugs, in much the same way that brewers’ yeast can naturally convert sugars into alcohol.


- Plant Manufactured Pharmaceuticals

Plant manufactured Pharmaceuticals are pharmaceuticals derived from genetically modified plants used as therapeutic compounds. This can be used as the replacement for the traditional method of inoculating animals for Cell Culture production. We can use plants to cure and prevent diseases that may have once been deemed incurable. Through biotechnological advancements, we are able to produce complex therapeutic proteins from plant cells. Such Therapeutic Proteins are seen in brands like Enevrel and Remicade for rheumatoid arthritis, Herceptin, a breast cancer treatment. Plants like tobacco are hosts for protein production for applications such as; anemia, hepatitis C & B, hypertension, antimicrobial, and liver disease.




[More to come ...]

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