Category Archives: Plants & Medicine

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When Scientists Began Systematic Screening Of Plants To Fight Cancer

“If you look at the source of drugs used in cancer,” Newman says, “60-plus percent of them are either a natural product, a modified natural product, or depend upon what is known as a natural product pharmacophore”—in other words, a synthetic version of a natural molecule. Hartwell was “the leader” in organizing the discovery of natural products to fight cancer, Newman adds. “He was a prophet before his time. Prior to that, nobody had really looked.” (Click on title for full story.)

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New Sleep Aid Isolated From Ancient Herbal Remedy

Can’t sleep? Your sleep problems may be improved if you try an Indian herb, Ashwagandha. Researchers in the sleep institute in Japan found that an active component of Ashwagandha leaves significantly induces sleep. (Click on title for full story.)

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Spinach Leaves Used To Mend Damaged Human Hearts?

In a series of experiments, the team cultured beating human heart cells on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells. They flowed fluids and microbeads similar in size to human blood cells through the spinach vasculature, and they seeded the spinach veins with human cells that line blood vessels. These proof-of-concept studies open the door to using multiple spinach leaves to grow layers of healthy heart muscle to treat heart attack patients. (Click on title for full story.)

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Can This Invasive Tree Be Used To Fight MRSA Infections?

“This kind of study shows that when you take a logical approach focusing on those species that have been used in traditional medicines for centuries, that still is a valid area to explore and I think we can make a lot of progress in developing drugs that can help a larger population if we continue to work in that area.” (Click on title for full story.)

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The Medical Hype About Turmeric And Curcumin May Be A Trick

Inside the golden-yellow spice turmeric lurks a chemical deceiver: curcumin, a molecule that is widely touted as having medicinal activity, but which also gives false signals in drug screening tests. For years, chemists have urged caution about curcumin and other compounds that can mislead naive drug hunters. (Click on title for full story.)

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Cancer Patients Best Friend May Be Psychedelic Mushroom

A pair of randomized, blinded studies published Thursday in The Journal of Psychopharmacology provide the most robust evidence to date that a single dose of psilocybin can provide relief from the anxiety and gloom associated with cancer for at least six months. (Click on title for full story.)

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How Fresher Supermarket Bananas Led To A Treatment For Doomed Bats

I was standing there looking at a bucket of moldy bananas next to a bucket of bananas with no mold, If the bacterium could be so effective on fungi on bananas, could it have similar effects on fungus on bats? It was one of those leaps of thought in science that maybe only a grad student could make. (Click on title for full story.)

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Is The Solution To Antibiotic Resistance In Your Local Park?

In southern Italy, Quave discovered that healers use elmleaf blackberry to treat boils and abscesses. She gathered a few bags of blackberry roots, sliced and dried the samples, vacuum-sealed them in plastic bags and shipped them back to her lab in Atlanta, where her colleagues ground them to a powder in a mill and extracted organic molecules using various solvents. When they added different combinations of blackberry molecules to brothy wells of MRSA — a particularly antibiotic-resistant species of Staphylococcus bacteria — the botanical extracts did not kill the microbes as typical antibiotics do. Rather, they prevented the bacteria from forming slimy, intractable mats called biofilms, which allow them to adhere to living tissues and medical devices like catheters in hospitals. (Click on title for full story.)

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Could This Frightening Nettle Take Your Pain Away?

What particularly got Buenz’s scientific senses tingling in the bush was not the sting from the poisonous spines of the ongaonga but the numbing aftermath. It’s not common to get such an effect on the nervous system from a substance that is only applied to the skin. (Click on title for full story.)

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Enzyme From Carnivorous Plant May Help With Celiac Disease

In a few years’ time, people with celiac disease could take a pill containing these enzymes, which would allow them to fully break down gluten. (Click on title for full story.)