| Share
 

medicinal plants

medicinal plants, plants used as natural medicines. This practice has existed since prehistoric times. There are three ways in which plants have been found useful in medicine. First, they may be used directly as teas or in other extracted forms for their natural chemical constituents. Second, they may be used as agents in the synthesis of drugs. Finally, the organic molecules found in plants may be used as models for synthetic drugs. Historically, the medicinal value of plants was tested by trial and error, as in the Doctrine of Signatures. Modern approaches to determining the medicinal properties of plants involve collaborative efforts that can include ethnobotanists, anthropologists, pharmaceutical chemists, and physicians. Many modern medicines had their origin in medicinal plants. Examples include aspirin from willow bark ( Salix spp. ), digitalis from foxglove ( Digitalis purpurea ), and vinblastine from Madagascar periwinkle ( Vinca rosea ) for the treatment of childhood leukemia. See also herbal medicine.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on medicinal plants from Infoplease:

  • MEDICINAL PLANTS - Many plants produce special substances in their roots, leaves, flowers, or seeds that help them to survive. For example, some plants make nasty-tastin
  • purple foxglove: meaning and definitions - purple foxglove: Definition and Pronunciation
  • daphne, in botany - daphne daphne, common name for, and genus name of, certain low deciduous or evergreen shrubs native ...
  • herb - herb herb , name for any plant that is used medicinally or as a spice and for the useful product of ...
  • senna - senna senna, any plant of the genus Sennia (formerly placed in Cassia), leguminous herbs, shrubs, ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pharmacology

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring