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March 30, 2011
7:00-8:30 PM

Schlafly Bottleworks, Maplewood, MO

Medicinal Plants

Toni M. Kutchan, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Danforth Plant Science Center
Adjunt Professor of Biology

Moderated by: Cynthia Wichelman, M.D.

For much of human history, plant extracts have been used as ingredients in potions and poisons. In the eastern Mediterranean, use of the latex of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) can be traced back at least to 1400 to 1200 B.C.  The Sarpagandha root (Rauwolfia serpentina) has been used in India since approximately 1000 B.C.  Ancient people used medicinal plant extracts as purgatives, antitussives, sedatives, and treatments for a wide range of ailments, including snakebite, fever and insanity. As the use of medicinal plants spread westward across Arabia and Europe, new infusions and decoctions played a role in famous events. During his execution in 399 B.C., the philosopher Socrates drank an extract of coniine-containing hemlock (Conium maculatum). In the last century B.C., Queen Cleopatra used extracts of henbane (Hyoscyamus), which contains atropine, to dilate her pupils and appear more alluring to her male political rivals. Today, 25% of our medicines still come either directly from plants or are modified plant chemicals and only 10% of plant species have been studied with respect to their chemical constituents!

Science On Tap highlighted on St. Louis Public Radio and Voice of America!

Science On Tap is a place where, for the price of a beverage, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place outside a traditional academic context, in the Crown Room at Schlafly Bottleworks.

Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of the month during the academic year, usually from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. The standard format is as follows: 20 minutes of presentation, followed by a 7 minute break for attendees to introduce themselves to each other at the table, and then an hour of discussion. Seating is limited to the first 100 people.  No reservations accepted.

Crown Room at the Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave.
Maplewood, MO 63143
(314) 241-2337

Register to receive e-mail announcements of future Science On Tap events.

Interested in learning about medicine? Check out Washington University's Mini-Medical School!

For more information: e-mail scienceontap@wustl.edu
or call (314) 935-9495