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Plant medicine conference


Professor David Kennedy and Dr Emma Wightman @emmapolyphenols presented at the plant medicine conference last week which was hosted by the College of Medicine @CollegeofMed and chaired by TV doctor Chris Van Tulleken @DoctorChrisVT

The day focused on the use of plant-based compounds; such as echinacea, ashwagandha and tumeric (to name just a few) in the treatment of everyday disorders like respiratory tract infections and rosacea- in many cases demonstrating efficacy here where prescription medications had not worked for some patients. The surprising message from the day was that these 'herbal' treatments still don't receive the attention they deserve despite several key facts:

1. The drugs we consider to be traditional, safe and efficacious, which are prescribed by the GP, are in the great bulk of cases derived from plants! For example, willow bark produces salicylates and acetylsalicylic acid (which can be made in the lab) is the active compound in aspirin.

2. The medical community often require more rigorous testing procedures for 'herbal' treatments when, in some cases, these aren't met for prescription drugs. For example, Kerry Bone gave the example of paracetamol with a recent review demonstrating little use in the treatment of chronic pain: Ennis ZN, Dideriksen D, Vaegter HB et al. Acetaminophen for Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review on Efficacy. BasicClin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2016; 118(3): 184-189. PMID: 26572078 and yet it is still widely prescribed.

3. The biological mechanisms of action of these lesser known treatments are sometimes exactly the same as those of prescribed medications and some traditional forms of healing; e.g. Ayerveda, have been using these 'herbal' treatments for thousands of years to treat the exact same disorder.

A key advocate of this 'plant revolution' is HRH Prince Charles and he was kind enough to attend the conference and talk to those presenting. He is really knowledgeable and passionate about this sometimes maligned area of research and it was great that so many delegates were enthusiastic about the research that we do here at the @BPNRC

Dr Emma Wightman meeting Dr Chris!

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