Medicinal Plant Facts



  • Prehistoric Neanderthal people probably used plants as medicines at least 50,000 years ago.
  • Until quite recently herbaceous plants were our main source of medicines. Plants used as medicines were listed in books called herbals.
  • An ancient Chinese list of 1892 herbal remedies that was drawn up over 3000 years ago is still used today.
  • The famous illustrated herbal of Greek physician Dioscorides was made in the 1st century BC
  • The most famous English herbalist was Nicholas Culpeper, who wrote A Physical Directory in 1649.
  • Most medicines, except antibiotics, come from flowering plants or were first found in flowering plants.
  • Powerful painkilling drugs come from the seeds of the opium poppy.
  • Digitalis is a heart drug that came from foxgloves. It is poisonous if taken in large doses.
  • Garlic is thought to protect the body against heart disease — and vampires!
  • Vincristine is a drug made from the Madagascar periwinkle that helps children fight cancer.