Links on Medicinal Plants
There is a huge
amount of information about medicinal plants on the web. A lot
of it is fluff and hooey; the user must judge VERY carefully
the value of the information.
“In this age of rapidly expanding information, we have reached a period where the most important
contributions to our knowledge are syntheses of disparate information in diverse disciplines.”
Richard Evans Schultes
“Without recognition of the
knowledge and accomplishments of humans in the past and
in other cultures, Western scientific discovery is often only
With Bitter Herbs They Shall Eat It
Many of these will have links to information about medicinal plants.
Databases and Other Sources of Specific Information
- The Agricultural Research Service (US government)
maintains Dr. Duke's Phytochemical
and Ethnobotanical Databases where you can search for specific
information on medicinal plants. This takes a little effort to learn
to use but is worth it if you're really serious. You can search for
all the chemicals reported in a given plant, what plants contain a
certain chemical, and many other variations. This is actually several
databases cross referenced and linked to each other. The service will
provide you with literature references as well. Very Powerful!
- Dan Moerman's excellent Native
American Ethnobotany database.
- HerbMed Electronic database on herbs.
- Database on Plant
Oils (lots of hard to find information here).
- Looking for plant identification info for a specific
region? Try searching for “digital flora“ plus the region's
name, for example, “digital flora texas“.
- If you are looking for information on a specific plant, try searching for the Latin name, as this is always a unique keyword.
- One of the best resources for medicinal plant
information is NAPRALERT (which stands for Natural Product Alert).
There is a web interface for
this service which is searchable. You do have to set up an account
and pay a modest fee for each citation located. However, you
can see how many hits there are in the database before paying for anything.
“Once again, indigenous peoples
in red breechclothes, living deep in the Amazon, had proven
to be our equals -- actually our betters -- in organic chemistry”
Mark J. Plotkin
Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice
“Yet there is a shared
suspicion around the world that modern laboratories in their narrow
search for precisely acting pharmaceuticals may have missed some important
aspects of why the ‘naturals’ do work. The erstwhile
impurities might be as essential as the concentrated extract. Moreover,
the suspicion of ‘something missing’ in modern pharmacy,
fully dependent on laboratory products, is accompanied by a growing
awareness that our forefathers were anything but fools in their knowledge
of drugs, and that traditional medical systems throughout the world
contained an enormously sophisticated number of approaches to therapeutics, ‘tested
by time’ as it were, through thousands of generations.”
Folklore and Folk Medicines
General Information on Medicinal Plants
- The Lloyd
Library and Museum in Cincinnati is a
tremendous resource. They have virtually all modern holdings on the
broad topics of medicinal plants and pharmacology. They also have
originals of many historically important books and documents. Founded
by the Lloyd brothers who were Eclectic Physicians (go to the site
to learn what that means).
Botany & Botanical Gardens
Poisonous and Toxic Plants
- Poisonous plants are often sources of therapeutically
useful compounds. Try the Cornell
Poison Plant page. The dose makes the poison!
Psychoactive Plants & Shamanism
Indigenous People - Indigenous Property Rights - Intellectual Property Rights
- The ETC Group promotes
indigenous rights, including the preservation of indigenous knowledge
about plant resources. Their web site contains several interesting
- NativeWeb - resources on indigenous peoples
International - an international
group working to protect the lives, rights and lands of tribal people.
an organization devoted to linguistic preservation, and therefore cultural
and biodiversity preservation as well.
- Amazon Conservation Team
© Prof. Bryan
Hanson Last update:
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