Why We're Dependent On Plants For Medicine | Sophie Lamb & Naomi Murray | TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells



[Applause] my sister Sophie and I come from a background where herbal medicine was the norm in our house if we became poorly we returned to plants for medicine in the winter we would have time syrup for coughs and in the summer we returned to the delicate eyebright for hay fever at the weekends and during the holidays we would be out with our father getting knee-deep in the bogs of the Scottish Highlands filling our sacks with bog bean or going to the sand dunes to pick the eyebright at home in our kitchen the red our ger would always have herbes macerating next to it or drying on top this is because our father is a medical herbalist and down the generations before him were doctors and herbalist and surgeons our great-great great-grandfather dr. Samuel lamb would have been in his surgery at around the same time that mr. boots opened his first herbalist shop in 18-49 which would become the roots of the great Empire today familiar on many a high street we realized this was a unique childhood but at the same time how can something so innate and real does be so foreign and destined to others especially we know that the majority of the drugs are used today our drive from plants are used every day in conventional medical settings in the same way that we're losing the connection between the milk and the fridge and the cow on the field we're losing that precious connection between the plants in the field and the medicines in our cupboards the World Health Organization has an official list of essential medicines and these unnecessary for any healthcare system and these are the most safe and effective medicines available to us but here's the thing a substantial proportion of these drugs come from plants in other words we depend on plants for our most vital medicine for example we have lidocaine the most commonly used anesthetic in dentistry lidocaine has developed from cocaine which of course comes from the coca leaf and it's thanks that observation of the nomina FET of coca leaf in the mouth that we have lidocaine and many of our other modern anesthetics if you go for an eye exam you might be given atropine eyedrops which dilate the pupil to allow a better examination of the inside of the eye atropine is actually from Atropa belladonna or more commonly known as the deadly nightshade and who can forget morphine from the opium poppy which has tended to pay into World War injuries and continues to be unrivaled as the most potent form of analgesia since it was first isolated more than two hundred years ago and morphine is still extracted directly from the plant and we are the discovery of metformin the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes – the French lilac or Galia officinalis a plant always used by herbalist to treat this condition oncology – has found many of its greats in the plant kingdom we have been blasting from the Madagascar periwinkle and we have taxol which is a breast cancer drug that comes from the European nutri taxall is directly harvested from the leaves of that tree in fact 90% of all drugs in the field of oncology or eat found in either plants or other natural products and two of our most important anti malarial drugs quinine from the cinchona tree and Artemis nin from sweet wormwood have saved millions of lives and are still extracted directly from the plants but before we even end up in the emergency room or the dental chair how about the plant-based medicines and your own cupboards at home if you think about aspirin one of the most widely used drugs in the world it comes from a compound found in meadowsweet and the sweet scent of this herb always takes me straight back to my father's dispensary in Scotland you might even have a painkiller in your cabinet that contains caffeine which comes from either a bean or relief and both caffeine and aspirin are on the list of a your medicines now let's take compound like caffeine and have a closer look at one of the plants that can be found in camellia sinensis it's where we get our green tea and our breakfast tea now come with me below the surface of this leaf and explore another world within a world the tea leaf has reportedly 4,000 different bioactive compounds a bioactive compound is a compound which exerts a measurable physiological effect on the human or animal which is consuming it the studies are clear tea protects against heart disease and cancer but which of these 4000 compound does that do to is it 1 is it a few or is it the synergy and symphony of the home did you know that the stimulating effect of caffeine in your tea is perfectly complemented and balanced by an amino acid unique to the tea leaf called l-theanine so while caffeine elevates your sense of alertness focus l-theanine stimulates alpha brainwaves the same type of served during meditation and the net result is a focused calm you are literally drinking medicine every single day in your cup of tea our grandmother lived to the age of 96 on no drugs and towards the end a diet of tea and biscuits who can say what influence the tea had on her longevity your daily copper could be your greatest health ally and the same way that we risk missing out on the synergy of the whole plant what might we be missing out on when we treat parts of ourselves rather than the whole for example if we have a headache conventional medicine will aim to target the pain which of course is a justifiable thing to do but with little or no consideration for the hormones diet or influences or digestive health at play do you know the old fashioned name for depression melancholia or melancholy that Lassen word breaks down to melon black Kolia bile in other words depressive States were traditionally viewed disorders perhaps relations the digestive tract and of course depression is a multifactorial disorder but that old view that traditional view is more in line with the most recent research which is coming out in depression releasing it to inflammation autoimmune disease and digestive disorders so let's take a plant like milk thistle and now let's relate that to a rather unusual reason for hospital admission mushroom poisoning now mushroom foraging is enjoyed the world over but there have always been incidents of mistaken identity and with a name like death cap you know you're going to be in trouble if you eat that by accident ingestion of this mushroom is associated with high death rate due to rapid liver failure but in hospitals around the world an extract of milk thistle is intravenously being used and the saving people's lives in fact cutting death rates by half and preserving the health of the liver milk thistle is one of our most favorite hurts and has always been used traditionally by herbalist to preserve the lever and to support the health and function of it you know 80% of the developing world still rely on plants than that robotics for their medicine not because these people are poor not because they're ignorant but because they're safe and effective options and if we just think about that story of milk thistle and remember this that many if not most of the plant arrived drugs that we used today are used in a similar way of the traditional medicinal use of the plant that they came from but now from the merchants event of global use let's end up on your own doorstep at home with the dandelion most people don't know this but the dandelion is able to activate the largest nerve in your body at the back of your tongue you have better receptors and when you eat or taste a better plant like the tangel i'm when these receptors are activated they go on to stimulate the vagal nerve the vagal nerve innervates all of your digestive organs improving there hone and function so you see with some of these plants the healing actually begins in the mouth and if that weren't amazing enough I'm always in awe of the dandelion this humble bumble bee loving weed at the moment is being researched to see if it's can be efficient in the treatment of blood cancers including lymphoma and leukemia you see the the further you look at these plants the more amazing they get thank you so much taking this brief albatross view of those over the landscape of plant medicine we hope it's left you curious for more with a more openness of the potentials for your own health and most of all for a greater appreciation for the life-saving medicines which are growing all around us thank you you [Applause]

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