Stories about: Nature in Medicine

Naturally influential

Written by Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston and faculty member at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment.

In the Middle Ages, people concocted mixtures of wormwood, mint and balm to treat stomach problems and applied rubs made of rose and lavender to alleviate chronic migraines. Considering how far medicine has come since, many people assume that modern science is the driving force behind today’s powerful drugs. It may surprise them to learn that he world around us is still the source of most of our modern medicines.

For the past 30 years, only 1/3 of the drugs approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration were created in labs, based on human resourcefulness alone. The remaining 2/3 were given to us, more or less, by nature. Although most of these medicines were made safer and in some cases more potent with the help of human ingenuity, most of what makes them medically useful comes directly from mother nature.

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