Hidden jewels rooted in the earth – Shawnee News-Star


Becky Emerson Carlberg
For the The Shawnee News star

Total knee arthroplasty is basically a resurfacing where metal is wrapped around the exposed large bone ends and cemented with a layer of plastic cartilage sandwiched in between. The kneecap is given a smooth plastic button to allow for a smooth glide.

On the ninth day, 17 staples were removed from my new knee. The two bottom staples were where Rosie the robot resided to guide the surgeon. My whole leg is injured and tender. After a few weeks on the walker, anti-thrombosis stockings, lots of pain and physical therapy, I’m told I’m going to sing the praises of my new knee. Not here yet.

The first day of astronomical autumn is September 23. The sun is directly over the equator.

The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are beginning to change colour. Should I just jump to December 21st, the first day of winter, and hope the weather has changed? Rain?

June 3.18” July 0.07” August 1.07” September 0.74” rain.

It doesn’t look good for autumn yet.

The challenge was on. How to watch the latest Shackleford Series presentation on September 15 and take notes while keeping your left knee up. The laptop cooperated, the internet signal was strong and the air conditioner hummed.

dr Barbara Timmerman’s “In Quest of Tomorrow’s Medicines from Native Plants of the US” begins at 1:00 p.m. How many of us share a passion and love for plants?

Distinguished Professor Timmerman has been with the University of Kansas (KU) School of Medicinal Chemistry since 2005. Before her time at KU, she was at the University of Arizona for 25 years. Her specialty is medicinal and natural product chemistry.

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Humans run to avoid harm, but plants cannot.

They are rooted but have evolved an important family of protective chemicals. As?

Plants use UV light from the sun with water from the soil to convert carbon dioxide molecules into various products and oxygen. Many are secondary metabolites used for biological purposes that interact with proteins.

Through trial and error, humans discovered plant traits. For example, Belladonna nightshade. This very toxic drug is used to dilate the pupils of the eyes. Ayahuasca. Psychoactive concoction that alters brain energies.

Used in Peruvian rituals. Has moved from the ceremonial to western society, as has tobacco. Hemlock. A member of the carrot family but acutely toxic to animals and humans.

Probably used to kill Socrates.

Traditional peoples have learned and passed on plant knowledge over generations.

Historically, the brutal resettlement of tribes and, more recently, the movement of younger generations to cities have had untold negative effects. When a medicine man dies, it’s like burning down the Library of Congress. Ethnobotany is now recovering this native knowledge.

Natural Plant Medicine Sources: Morphine for pain is an isolate from the opium poppy ( Papaver somniferum). The complex structure is difficult to replicate. Requires 38 different chemical steps including isolation and purification.

Instead, the pharmaceutical industry grows poppies under strictly controlled conditions.

Digoxin, used in heart failure, comes from the foxglove plant ( Digitalis purpurea).

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Vinblastine, used to treat cancer, comes from the Malagasy periwinkle ( Catharantus roseus).

A twisted molecule that is difficult to make. Pacific yew ( Taxus brevifolia) is the source of the cancer drug Taxol, another cancer drug. Found in the bark, 200 trees must be processed for a minimal yield. Not sustainable. Today, yew cuttings from various sources are sold to pharmacological companies involved in taxol production.

Twelve to 15 years, millions of dollars and one to four clinical trials are invested in drug research before it is considered effective and approved. Three types of medicines are on the market.

Pharmaceutical drug: To become a pharmaceutical drug, a single molecule must be rigorously tested, approved, and available by prescription.

The botanical supplement is a blend of chemicals. Why it works is not exactly known. Not FDA approved as a drug. Many botanical drugs are wild produced. Buy products at your own risk.

The botanical drug is a mixture of compounds that it contains

See GARDENS, page A9

Wrong thimble. Provided

Poisonous nightshade fruit. Provided clinical studies, FDA approved and available by prescription. Veregen comes from green tea leaves and is used to treat genital warts. Crofelemer from the South American tree Croton lechleri treats diarrhea.

Our forests are being destroyed worldwide.

These chemical stores in nature are disappearing. If you are faced with not being able to receive Vassobia breviflora, an Amazon rainforest tree of the nightshade family that produces withaferin A, a potent cancer cell killer, Dr. Timmerman. What Midwestern Plants Would Work?

A large Solanaceae collection project has been started in Kansas. Datura and ground cherry, among others, have been studied as sources of Withaferin A.

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When it comes to a finished product from nature, the challenge is to look back to see how it is made. For years she has worked her way through a forest of different chemicals. The common ground cherry Physalis longifolia proved to be carriers of the potent 19-hydroxy group. This compound was isolated from nature for the first time. Archaeological sites have been uncovered where Native Americans used the ripe fruit of this species to make cakes eaten in winter.

The fruit has the 19-hydroxy derivative and may have a future as a diet product.

While ripe tomatillo and ground cherry fruits are edible, the fruit of their relative, the silverleaf nightshade, is TOXIC. Just because plants are natural, they can be harmful.

dr Timmerman ended with images of the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy Medicinal Plant Garden. Lucius Sayre, first faculty member and dean of the KU School of Pharmacy, worked on a medicinal herb garden.

The earliest documentation of the garden dates from 1927. About 60 species native to the Great Plains have been faithfully reproduced from a 1927 map.

Plants include: echinaceas, spurge, herbs, marshmallow ( Althea officinalis), lamb quarters ( Chenopodium album), Cotton ( Gossypium hirsutum) and regret ( Ruta graveolens). Although there are no opium poppies or marijuana in the original garden!

A fascinating presentation.

I felt like I was back in graduate level biochemistry. The message: do not take native plants for granted. They are hidden gems rooted in the earth.



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