OCT 20, 2016 3:59 PM PDT

Fast facts: which plants are important for medicine?


Many plant-based substances can be used for medicinal purposes. Everyone's grandma has at least one or two household remedies, and most likely, one of these utilizes plants.

Alkaloids are a broad group of plants that include caffeine, nicotine, and morphine. One such alkaloid is atropine, a compound found all over the Deadly Nightshade plant. Yes, as its name suggests, this plant is not one whose berries you want to go around eating (consuming just 10 of them can be fatal). However, atropine also can be used for positive medical purposes, such as a sedative for short surgeries or an antidote against certain types of poison.

Artemisinin is another example of a compound found in a plant that humans have put to good use. Artemisinin, in the sweet wormwood plant, can be used to treat malaria. However, this plant is just one of 1,200 plant species around the world that can treat malaria!

Even diabetes can be treated from a plant called Goat's Rue which contains a compound called metformin. To learn more about common medicinal plants, keep watching!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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