Where do our pharmaceutical drugs come from?. Drugs From Plants. Learning Objectives: To describe the importance and medicinal value of drugs produced by plants. Steroids.
Yams are a source of steroids. The most important yam steroid is diosgenin which can be converted into progesterone for use in the birth-control pills.
Colchicine is found in the autumn crocus, also known as meadow saffron.
It is an anti-inflammatory used primarily for treating gout.
Digitalin is found in foxglove plant.
It is used to treat heart failure.
Foxglove extract was first shown to be effective in 1785 by an English doctor named William Withering. However, foxglove plants were used for centuries prior to this for treating many different illnesses.
The use of willow bark dates back to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew it to reduce fever and inflammation. It continues to be used today for the treatment of pain, headache, and inflammatory conditions.
Ergotamine constricts blood vessels and is used to treat migraines. It is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye plants. This drug is chemically similar to LSD, and a disorder called St. Anthony's Fire, with symptoms similar to the experience of an LSD trip, can result from eating rye infected with ergot.
Morphine is a highly potent drug and is the principal active agent in opium. Like other opioids, e.g.heroin, morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to relieve pain. Morphine is highly addictive.
Patients on morphine often report insomnia, visual hallucinations and nightmares.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant found in common cold remedies such as Sudafed.
It is found in the ephedra plant, which is also the source of the dangerous diet drug ephedrine.