Return to the main gate




Herbology: How Do Plants Work
Back to the Herbal Menu

The Inner Workings Of A Plant
Plants work in many different ways chemically. Our bodies are also made of many different chemicals. As with the nature of science, if you mix a couple of chemicals together, you're bound to get a reaction. The trick is, figuring out which plant chemcials work best with which animal/human chemicals. That's basically what pharmaceutical companies do in their research labs. But you don't have to be a Harvard scientist to learn some of the basics.
Plants contain alkaloids, glycosides, antibiotic substance, oils, fats, resins and many other compounds in their inner tissues. Understanding how these compounds work is the beginning process for learning about herbology. Now don't give up before you've even read this part. It's not as hard as you might think.
  • Alkaloids are one of our most valued compounds in plants. Basically an alkaloid is a compound that is rich in nitrogen bases. Some of the most common pain killers utilize these, such as morphine, cocain, nicotine and many others.
  • Glycosides are sugary type compounds, but not all of them are bad to eat or make you fat. Actually without some sugar compounds, your body wouldn't have any energy. But before you go out and buy a case of this stuff, you might want to think about some of the other uses. Glycosides are also used as solvents, antifreezes and in making dynomite. Not to mention liquid soap, lubricants, sweetners and even some oral contraceptives. You can't take these glycosides for granted though, Digitalis which is one of the most widely perscribed plant drues for cardiac patents owes a good part of it's affectiveness to these little glyco guys.
  • Antibiotics are the most commonly recognized compounds. And they have become very important over the 50-60 years. Since their discovery in pinicilin in the 1930's scientists have found many others from the plant kingdom. Mostly from fungi, lichens and bacteria plants. What antibiotics actually do is inhibit the growth or even destory microorganisims. There is some evidence however that the early Egyptians already know about the value of antibiotics. As well as, the medieval England cultures, which used natural growths of fungi to treat sores and ulcers.
  • Oils, Resins and gums compounds play less of a role in perscription Remedies, but that does not limit their value.
    • Essential oils are just as important to a healthy skin as vitamine E or C. But these compunds don't typically have a single component to their make-up, but are often paired with alcohols, aldehydes, phenols, ketones, nitrogena and sulphurs. They are also wonderful germ killers, but when mixed with water they are too insoluble to make beneficial antiseptics. Still, you're likely to find these in cough drops, mouthwashes, and healing ointments.
    • Gums are often made of various sugar components, guess that's why they make such good chewing gum.
    • Resins are oxygenated compounds. They make wonderful ointments, because oxygen is a key ingrediant to healing an open wound or burn.
  • Fatty oils and lipids are at the bottom of the list. They are often used as purgatives, which are Remedies that help clear the bowels. They can also be used as emulsions. Now this part is a bit distasteful, but an emulsion is a coating that at first does not mix with other components. Such as milk cells in milk or even silver grains in thin gelatin on photgraphic film.
Well that's the scientific side of how plants work. But this is an important side. To understand how the flowers, herbs and roots in your neighborhood forest can help next time you have cold, you need to understand the basic components of a plant. Not only will it aid you in creating a wonderful concoction, but it may also save your life.
Never, Ever, ingest an herbal remedy if you're not sure of it's basic compounds and how it will interact with the chemicals in your own body.

Source: 1, h1, h2, h3, h4, h11, h12, h13, h14