Some of our oldest medicines came from plants. Digitalis, for heart failure, came from the foxglove plant. Colchicine, for the treatment of gout, came from a small flower, the colchicum. And quinine, for the prevention and treatment of malaria, as well as the treatment of some heart diseases, came from the back of the cinchona tree in the rainforests of South America. Even now, we have found new medicines for malaria from artemesia plants ("Sweet Annie") and medicines for cancer from the Pacific Yew (taxol). The potential for discovery of new medicines is vast.
Dr. Jim Duke, author of "The Green Pharmacy", leading a group of pharmacists and physicians in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Dr. Duke headed the USDA program seeking anti-cancer drugs in the rainforest for many years.