4 Plants That Are Great for Humans

4 Plants That Are Great for Humans

They might not be able to pull you out of
a freezing lake, or carry you from a burning building, but plants have probably saved your
life, or at least made you feel a whole lot better. That’s because, at least in the U.S., a
quarter of all prescription drugs come from substances that are found only in plants. We humans have a long history of using plants
to treat diseases. Most of those treatments were probably discovered
using blind luck — like, by people munching on random leaves and seeing how they felt. If they found one that seemed to work, the
knowledge would usually get passed around by word of mouth, but sometimes it would also
be written down. That’s how we ended up with recipes that
are about as old as writing itself — like the 5000 year old Sumerian clay slab that
lists 250 plants for preparing medicines. Of course, the recipes don’t always work,
and there are plenty of old herbal remedies that do absolutely nothing. But a few did
work — and we still use some of them in medicines today. Many of the plant-based substances people
use belong to a broad group of bitter-tasting, nitrogen-containing compounds called alkaloids. These compounds don’t seem to be strictly
necessary for plants to survive, so they probably offer evolutionary bonuses – like a defense
against anything that tries taking a bite out of it. Their names mostly end in i-n-e, and you’ve
probably already heard of some of them, like caffeine, nicotine, morphine… And a lot of them have effects on our bodies
that are pretty strong … for better or worse. Take the deadly nightshade, for example. In 2009, a woman was hospitalized from eating
just six nightshade berries, which she thought were blueberries. Ten berries could have been
fatal. One of the killer compounds in nightshade
is atropine, an alkaloid found all over the plant. But atropine also has a good side — it’s
actually on the World Health Organization’s “Model List of Essential Medicines” in
three separate places! Surgeons can use it as a sedative for short
operations, or to dilate the pupils to gain easy access to the back of the eye. And, despite being extracted from a plant
so toxic, atropine works an antidote against certain types of poisoning! Some pesticides and nerve gases overwork the
parasympathetic nervous system, and atropine can counter that deadly effect by blocking
the receptors these toxins over-activate. Other useful plant-based drugs took a lot
of hard science to make work — as in the case of an anti-malarial drug called artemisinin. The compound comes from the sweet wormwood
plant, and Youyou Tu, the chemical engineer who developed it, was awarded half of the
Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2015. Using plants to treat malaria is not a new
thing. The disease has probably killed half of all humans from the Stone Age to today,
and we haven’t beaten it yet. With so many people suffering, especially
in developing countries, it’s not surprising people turned to plants for a cure. Around the world, more than 1200 plant species
are used to treat malaria and the fever that comes with it. But only a fraction of these
have been properly tested for their effectiveness. One of the first remedies known to be genuinely
effective was quinine, an alkaloid that comes from the bark of Peruvian cinchona trees. A compound known as chloroquine, which was
based on quinine, was later developed synthetically as a safer and more potent version of the
drug. But it wasn’t long before the Plasmodium
parasite that causes malaria started showing resistance to chloroquine. So people started
looking for an alternative. Tu and her team turned to traditional remedies
from China. They scoured thousands of traditional recipes for potions and medicines that were
said to reduce fever, looking for the most promising plants. They found a clear winner. One plant — the
sweet wormwood — showed up in not just one or two, but hundreds of different recipes. Initial tests of sweet wormwood extracts on
the malaria parasite were promising, but inconsistent. Some experiments showed sweet wormwood to
be highly effective, but others only slightly. Tu thought that the variations might be caused
by differences in the way the wormwood extract was prepared, so she went back to the old
texts to find more clues. Most of the remedies suggested processing
dried leaves with boiling water, but Chinese philosopher Ge Hong, writing in the year 340
CE, had a different suggestion. He described a preparation process that used
fresh, not dried leaves, and involved extracting the juice by soaking those fresh leaves in
cold water, wringing them out, then drinking the juice straight down. Based on this account, the team developed
their own extraction method using ether, then tested it out on mice, monkeys, and finally
people. And it worked! The new-and-improved extract killed off malaria
parasites soon after they entered their host’s red blood cells, and with relatively mild
side effects. The active compound was called artemisinin after the plant it was found in. The discovery of artemisinin created a whole
new family of antimalarial drugs that are still used to treat malaria today. Then there’s diabetes, another disease that
people have been trying to treat for a long time. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels in people
with diabetes can lead to complications like nerve damage, sight problems and kidney failure. But plants have our backs on this one, too. For the estimated 400 million people who have
Type II diabetes, one of the most widely prescribed treatments is metformin, a relatively simple
molecule that’s made up of just a few nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen atoms. The story of metformin starts with an herb
known as goat’s rue, or professor weed. It stands over a meter high, with white, blue,
or purple flowers. Professor weed has been used to manage diabetes
around the Middle East and Europe since the Middle Ages. In the late 1800s, studies found that the
plant contained high levels of an alkaloid called guanidine. When isolated, guanidine
worked great at reducing blood sugar levels in animals, but it was too toxic to use in
people. So chemists got to work, trying different
adaptations of guanidine that kept the blood sugar down, but without the whole poisoning
problem. The result was metformin. Safe, effective
and cheap to make, metformin is helping millions of people manage their diabetes. Despite its simple chemical structure and
plenty of research, we still don’t really know how metformin lowers blood sugar, or
why it’s so effective with so few side-effects. So, what thanks do the American people give
this life-saving plant? We slap it on the Noxious Federal Weed list! But, to be fair, that’s because it’s an
invasive species in the US. It’s a lot less destructive when it grows in the Middle East,
Europe and Asia. Not all plants are so common, though — in
fact, plants containing the secrets to much-needed cures may have gone extinct before we had
the chance to even name them, let alone study them. And we’ve come close to losing life-saving
plants before. In 1987, for example, a botanist named John
Burley trekked through a swamp forest in Malaysia, collecting plant samples to study back in
the lab. His travels were part of a larger mission to find new treatments for various
cancers, as well as HIV. One of these samples, tagged “Burley-and-Lee
351” didn’t kill cancer cells, but it did do an amazing job of preventing HIV from
replicating. So the collectors high-tailed it back to the
forest… only to find it gone, cut down for firewood or building. Extracts from similar
trees didn’t have the same effect, because they were slightly different species. It was only salvaged when a few trees of the
right species were found at the Singapore Botanical Gardens. The drug is called Calanolide
A, and it’s currently in Phase II clinical trials and owned by the local Malaysian government. Then there’s this pretty little thing — the
Rosy Periwinkle. It might look like something that would be
right at home in my backyard, but it’s actually native only to Madagascar – though it will
happily grow anywhere warm. The native people of Madagascar used these periwinkle plants
for all kinds of ailments. In the 1950s, researchers from Western pharmaceutical
companies studied the periwinkle and discovered that it contained some rather remarkable alkaloids. Two of these, called vincristine and vinblastine,
are used to treat certain types of cancer by stopping the cells from dividing. Vincristine has helped increase success rates
in treating kids with leukemia from just 10% in the 1960s, to well over 80% today. And vinblastine is often a core chemotherapy
component for lymphoma — a cancer of the lymphatic system — as well as testicular
cancer. All kinds of plants have amazing substances
locked away inside them. So the next time you walk past a tree or flower, give it a
pat on the leaf — assuming it’s not, like, thorny, or poisonous to the touch- anything
like that. You might look a little strange, and the plant
won’t understand, but it probably deserves it anyway. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
which was brought to you by our patrons on Patreon. If you want to help support this
show, just go to patreon.com/scishow. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow
and subscribe!

100 thoughts on “4 Plants That Are Great for Humans

  1. I always loved the Rosy Periwinkle plant because it's pretty, but now I love it even more. I'm gonna remember how useful it is that everytime I see one now.

  2. Sir I'm Indian farmer
    I cultivated the sum medicinal plant please help our farmers community.
    And contact the international medicine company.
    I sell my raw plant

  3. Chinese: half of a Nobel prize. (Nobel prize is shared not halved)
    No mention about Ayurveda (literally the whole medical system mainly based on plant based medicine). It's Like talking about Life science and don't consider: cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, burnt, zoology any of these.
    Didn't expect this.

  4. the rosy periwinkle grows here in tobago its part of a twin island here in the caribbean…i also have that flower in my yard and it also comes in white

  5. Metforman was tested on abt 165 people and put on the market very soon after it was started. Not much is known abt any side effects.

  6. Very informative ,thanks for this beautiful video . Script writeing was amazing and orator too. Everything was just amazing.

  7. Saw a periwinkle seedling growing on the side of the road, so I dug it up and replanted in my yard. Had to go out of town a couple of months and thought for sure the heat and no watering was going to kill it. When I got back it was thriving and even blooming. I'm not sure it is a rosy periwinkle but I am happy it survivef

  8. 🍀All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the challenge of science is to find it, i bring to you today herbal remedies which cures Genital Warts, HIV, AIDS Diabetes, Epilepsy, Blood Cancer, HPV, ALS,Hepatitis B, HSV-2, CANCER, LOW SPERM COUNT, ASTHMA ETC. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't be cured contact for your effective herbal remedies for all the Diseases listed above DM or ☎️ +234 811 927 8442 or WhatsApp. Come today and get healed email [email protected] 🍀

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  10. So the scientist that invented the cure for malaria only received half a Nobel prize while ex president barrack Obama received a full one….. 🤔 makes sense

  11. I never thought that the rosy periwinkle which I have in my garden is medical 🏥😮😲😚😍😂🤣🏩🏥ℹ love 💗 you

  12. Shhhh just to be clear, the blind faith forced indoctrination religion of racist savages called EVOLUTION is a lie and deliberately Antichrist programming.

  13. it is so strange that you think evolution was something real when I believe and you should believe as well that we are an ancient race of people who knew more than you think. Welcome to The matrix. We made ourselves. And so we made the plants to help. Evolution means you give up on thinking. Do you understand me?

  14. My husband has lymphoma. It has been getting worse over the years, (which is normal as unfortunately), but he recently (3 mos. ago), volunteered for a clinical trial involving a new compound of vinblastine. This drug has always been used in chemotherapy before and in combination with other drugs, but this study uses only the vinblastine in specific varying doses over time. He has imp;roved substantially over this time. Unfortunately, at age 82 and with COPD as well, the long-term outlook is not too good. However, it has increased his immune system remarkably so he gets less chest congestion and he can breathe easier all the time. He used to come up one flight of stairs and have to hold onto something while he wheezed for air. He can now walk around fine afterwards. So vinblastine, although prescribed for his lymphoma, is also helping to control his COPD and give him a much better quality of life. Thank you little plant.

  15. here in New Mexico we go out and pick some juniper 'leaves' wash them, boil, use a coffee filter to strain and drink it, hot or cold, dont matter to calm down your stomach when your have… montezumas revenge… or mud butt. then there is this plant called rabbit bush you chew it and put it on an ant bite and it will help ease the pain, but you have to make sure to spit all of it out, because if you leave it in it will make your mouth a little bit numb. but yeah! fun facts.

  16. Rosy periwinkle hay en México y se llama Teresita es buena para infección estomacal y muchas enfermedades es amargosa , se usa 1 hojita para una taza d agua es muy efectiva 🌿🌱

  17. I watched this video because of thumbnail. I have that plant at my home. We call it Sadabahar (flowering in all weathers) and i have heard that this is good in curing diabetes. there are two types of plants one with pink flowers (shown in thumbnail) and one with white flowers.

  18. The plant may not appreciate being touched, but t might enjoy a little heavy breathing in its direction. "Yummy! CO2!" Or you could spit on iya roots.

  19. Kind of funny that the medical discoveries we are claiming today are just being found from writtings of the ones who actually discovered them. Lol

  20. That last plant looks a lot like stinging nettles don’t talk about hugging plants while showing a picture of stinging nettles you sadistic scientists people (stinging nettles…..burn when you hug them) 😉

  21. New Studies Show Serious Side Effects In (Metformin). The Drug Prescribed For Diabetes Mellitus Type 2. The Cheap Readily Prescribed Drug Can Cause Severe Liver Damage. I'd Use Extreme Caution With All Prescribed & Homeopathic Medications. Not All Are As They Claim Be Your Advocate & Do Your Research. Infinite Blessings To All!!!🙏

  22. God created human beings and found for them all their needs of kinds of seeds, fruits and vegetables, as well as medicinal plants that heal their bodies from all the diseases that afflict them on God. Praise and thanks

  23. Patents for the discovery of many in the treatment of medicinal plants are granted by the competent offices in many countries of the world and have not found their way for implementation. Investors in the field of pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries do not want to work in this field. Why. !!

  24. Great videos. But the whole malaria has killed half the humans that have ever lived thing has been pretty clearly not true. Researchers who looked carefully did come up with 4 to 6%, which is still an astronomical problem past and present, but no where close to half

  25. Hello good evening thank you for being beautiful thank you for being wonderful.goodnight the greatness In you is beautiful

  26. False! Plants are of nature, the pharmaceutical organization can not make money from things that are nature! Pharmaceutical attempt to mimic the natural healing in nature grown plants by synthesizing and through the use of chemicals which counter act the human bodies natural healing function. There for causing secondary or even more serious illnesses ,even death!!!!

  27. Omg..that VINCRISTINE plant can also be found here in Palawan, Philippines, growing almost anywhere under coconut plantation and hillside we called it "kantong", roots are dried and put in a bottle with oil from coconut with other herbs is good for massages.

  28. Brahmi is also nice medicinal plant. Antioxidants are substances that help protect against cell damage caused by potentially harmful molecules called free radicals.

    However, chronic, low-level inflammation has been linked to many chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and heart and kidney disease

    Research suggests that Bacopa monnieri may help keep blood pressure within a healthy range.
    There is one website where we can buy it online ….https://ecohindu.in/plants__gardening/go-greenwith-bramhi-bacopa-monnieri-medicinal-plant/

  29. Plants are our medicine since ever and they are helping lot of people nowadays. I found a book of remedies that helped any time I feel sick or bad.. nature is our friend!!

  30. If you stopped waving your hands in front of people’s eyes your presentation would be so much more interesting

  31. Harmine fro Syrian rue seeds makes insulin producing beta cells grow bad. Also if one has type 2 they should stop eating the cause of diabetes. The cause is fat. Primarily saturated fats and cholesterol. A low fat plant based diet works best.

  32. Eat clover leaves and flowers good for diabetes and cleaning the blood and many other health problems, dandylions leaves and flowers are good for cleansing the liver and kidneys.

  33. We have those periwinkle plants growing as alien species in South Africa, especially in Kwazulu natal. We ignire the governement and just leave them alone.

  34. Didn't knew until now that the plant I was growing is a periwinkle. Only now it is dead but replaced it with bryophyllum pinnatum.

  35. Most of the plants and animals on the invasive species list produces free food, medicine, fuel, building material and pest control. Just one more example of how the government franchise encourages passionate, stupid people to ruin their own environment so that businesses can exploit us all.
    That is why organic food is so expensive. Mullberries 180ZAR/kg.
    Cherries (glazed) 430ZAR/kg.
    Almonds 540ZAR/kg.
    Green fig preserve 150 ZAR/kg.
    Plant a victory garden and have your neighborhood do the same for food security and to bring down the local food retail prices or sell your soul for GMO corn, wheat and soy.

  36. As a yaaardie Jamaican who grew up in rasta culture, weed is the healing of the nation if used right. Smoking your weed is not the best way to get the healing properties. As we say back home, anything bitter is healing so get your bitter herbs plants and use those

  37. The ancient Ayur Veda is called Mother of Medicine and was the first in the world to use plants only for medicinal purposes. It also covers life style, psychology and nutrition.

  38. The herbs are for the healing of the nations, not the pharmaceuticals..But the herbs must be electrical and alkaline, not man made Hybrid plants…Why? The human body is electrical so you need to feed it electrical foods made by God, not man..Common sense really..See vids by the man that cured all those supposed "incurable" diseases – Dr Sebi..

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