Drugs from Natural Sources

Thursday 28 June 2018


The Talk

From Dr. William Withering’s research on foxglove in the 18th century to recent extracts from the yew for chemotherapy and anti- inflammatory papain from the pineapple; the talk follows a fascinating history.

The isolation of important alkaloids from Aconite, Cinchona, Henbane and other herbs from 1803 onwards and dominance of opium derivatives in Victorian medicine, contributed to healthcare today. Work on salicylates in Willow, Meadowsweet, Wintergreen and Birch has now provided popular pain relief. In the 20th century interest in Chinese herbs has added ephedrine and Ginkgo extracts.

Chemical synergy in whole herbs and the result of using isolated extracts, environmental considerations and folklore are illustrated with slides of the plants which have led to modern drugs. A thought-provoking lecture.

The Speaker

Christina Stapley has been researching historical uses of herbs for over 40 years. Her first interest in herbs sprang from research for writing a novel set in the Elizabethan period. Her continued deep and practical research has provided original recipes for many historical herb workshops and presentations at a number of museums for the past 20 years. These follow medicinal herb use over the past 2,000 years. She has a degree in Phytotherapy and has practised as a medical herbalist in Hampshire and Wiltshire. Now retired from Practice she is writing a book on Medicinal Trees. As a member of the Herbal History Research Network she helps to organise seminars and provide guidance for researchers. Christina teaches at the School of Herbal Medicine in Somerset.

Participant information

The talk will start with refreshments at 6pm and will begin at 6.30pm, duration of about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Please bring suitable warm outdoor clothing and as part of this talk may take place outside.

Fee and refreshments

£14 per person, £10 for Museum Annual Members; £5 for Weald & Downland Museum Volunteers. Book 5 places and get the 6th place free. To include tea, coffee and cake from 6pm. Please let the Museum know in advance if you have any special dietary requirements.


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