After "Drugs in Disguise" by Liza Lester (Nov. 10), and "Bad Bugs, No Drugs?" by Barry Evans (Dec. 29), I would like to share some thoughts.
Plant medicine is an integral and helpful part of the lifestyles of most of humanity today. We could also include "modern medicine" users if we note that a majority of modern medicines have bases in plants.
Unfortunately, by isolating and synthesizing only certain plant products, modern medicine "makers" create antibiotics and medicines which make it easier for resistant "super-bugs" to develop. The multiple compounds found in Oregon-grape roots (Mahonia), berberine and hydnocarpin, act synergistically to kill bacteria and prevent the development of resistance. On their own, as in a synthetic medicine, each compound cannot prevent this "super-bug" drug resistance from occurring. Malaria drugs used in Africa containing artemisinin are efficacious yet associated with the quick development of drug-resistant parasites; if malarial parasites were being exposed to all the many compounds (with their mechanisms and synergies) contained within a properly harvested Artemisia plant, it would take a lot longer for those parasites to develop resistance.
Of course, the next step is multiple plant herbal medicines: Ethnobotanists are finding similarities of plant combinations across many traditional cultures of the world. I cannot condone giving "tax breaks" to big pharmaceutial drug companies (as Barry Evans suggests), nor do I want the FDA to regulate plants sold in local herb shops as "drugs." I support an educated approach to using local, organically grown herbal medicines. Remember the plants.
Brian Dykstra, Arcata