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There are many modern, cutting-edge medicines and new innovations coming up all the time – but do you know, that the natural world is abundant with cures and treatments for many different ailments and illnesses – many of these, our ancestors were aware of thousands of years ago, but trials are being done all the time to look into the benefits and wonders of these natural remedies. Next time you walk through the countryside, have a look at all the flowers and you may see them in a very different light!
Here are some of the wonder drugs of the natural world…
Yew – This tree is known to be highly toxic and is associated with death. Often being found in graveyards, it is mysterious and incredibly long lived, being able to live for thousands of years! Although it is incredibly toxic, Yew trees actually contain a substance that can be used to make chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer. Although at high doses the chemicals in the needles of the yew are deadly, they can also be used at low doses to destroy cancer cells and to prevent cancer from spreading.
Willow – The beautiful willow tree is also a source of one of the world’s most common medicines – aspirin. Salicylic acid is found in the bark of the willow tree and has long been a source of the pain relieving and anti-clotting drug. As far back as the ancient Greeks it was identified as being useful for these reasons and aspirin has become one of the most important drugs all around the world. Different types of willow will have differing levels of Salix in them, but all can be used to produce the white powder that treats pain and blood clots.
Foxglove – These are instantly recognisable wildflowers that are a favourite with bees. However, like the Yew tree, they are also known to be highly toxic. The ingredient that makes them toxic, digitalis, can however also be used to save lives. It slows down the heart and can also increase muscle contractions. It must be administered in a very small dose but is a drug which can successfully treat heart failure as well as an irregular heartbeat.
Snowdrops – These beautiful white blooms are a joy to behold. In the UK they spread across forest floors in later February and herald the coming spring. Although they can also be toxic in large doses, they are also a plant which can treat one of the most distressing illnesses – Alzheimer’s disease. They increase the levels of brain acetylcholine, which is important in the healthy functioning of the brain and to increase memory.