Roots, Fruits, Shoots—and Drugs

For centuries, humans have sought relief from disease and pain by using bark, seeds, and other parts of plants. Did you know that some of these folk remedies are the source of today’s medical armamentarium?

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An annual flowering plant—originating in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia—the poppy is valued for its edible seeds, ornamental flowers, and medicinal properties. The first known written reference to the poppy appeared in 4000 BC in Sumerian text. Credit: Precinbe / Shutterstock

An annual flowering plant—originating in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia—the poppy is valued for its edible seeds, ornamental flowers, and medicinal properties. The first known written reference to the poppy appeared in 4000 BC in Sumerian text. In the medieval period, Avicenna described the poppy under the entry Afion of his medical encyclopedia Canon of Medicine. In the traditional system of medicine, the air-dried milky latex of unripe seed capsules is a remedy for a number of diseases and disorders.

Match the originating organism to its drug isolate:

Etoposide

Morphine

Artemisinin

Paclitaxel

Clinician Reviews. 2019 August;29(8):8e-10e

This quiz is not accredited for CME.

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