October 11 Talk – Dr Timothy Walker

Once again Dr Timothy Walker delighted us with a powerful and educational talk on ‘The Healing Power of Plants’ laced with his very funny asides and his experiences gleaned after 25 years as the Director of the Oxford Botanic Gardens, Britain’s foremost leader in plant science since it was created in 1642.

So many of today’s medicines are derived from plants. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants take energy from sunlight to form nutrients from carbon dioxide and water. It is the molecules obtained from plant species which form the basis of a huge range of drugs.

Leaves from the English Yew produce taxol which is used in chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Echinacea was found to be very effective in the control of infection.

25,000 acres of daffodils are grown in the UK not for florists but for the early treatment of alzheimer’s disease as the plants contain galantomine which has been found to slow down the disease.

For 4,700 years China has been developing medicines for treating illness. An early discovery was the opium poppy used in morphine. Artemisia which is used in the treatment of malaria. Ephedrin used in cough syrups like Sudafed.

It has been found plants often need stress to produce  more effective molecules.

In the Western world TB has been successfully combatted by the use of antibiotics. Unfortunately over the years the disease in many cases has grown resistant to treatment. However recently the blending of ginger and pepper oil to the antibiotics has created a more effective answer.

Next time you take an aspirin for a headache you may be interested to know it was originally developed from the bark of willow.

Lavender oil (often used in aromatherapy) has proven to have a calming effect but rosemary has the opposite effect!





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