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Books > Plants, Compounds >
Murder, Magic, and Medicine

John Mann

Pages: 232
Price: $23.95
Publisher: Oxford University
Pub Date: 1994
ISBN: 0198558546

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Table of Contents >
1 Introduction 1
2 Murder 7
Arrow poisons 7
Classical poisons I: the tropane alkaloids 19
Trials by ordeal 27
Marine toxins 34
Amphibian toxins 39
Microbial toxins 42
Classical poisons II: aconite, arsenic, and hemlock 55
3 Magic 61
Stimulants 62
Psychotomimetics 75
Inebriants 119
4 Medicine 129
Introduction: a history of pharmacy 129
Antibacterial substances 144
Anti-inflammatory agents 147
Drugs affecting the reproductive system 159
The heart and circulation 174
Drugs affecting the central nervous system 190
Anti-asthma drugs 206
Drugs affecting the gastrointestinal tract 211
Antiparasitic agents 217
Anticancer agents 230
The future 239
Bibliography 245
Index 251
Description >
"In this book, John Mann investigates the evolution of modern medicine from its roots in folk medicine, and reveals the continuing importance of natural plant and animal products, many of which remain undiscovered but under threat by the wholesale destruction of the Earth's wild places. In this new edition, he has updated the material to include discussion of the background to some of the most talked-about drugs of recent years, including Prozac and Viagra." - Publisher

Plant (and animal) sources of many poisons, hallucinogens, and medicines. History and neuropharmacology. Some on older psychedelics: Amanita, Cannabis, Solanaceae, Ipomoea, Psilocybe, Peyotl, ayahuasca, snuffs, tobacco, nutmeg, Iboga. Nice illustrations. Short bibliography and index. - Mind Books

Reviews/Excerpts >


This absorbing account of the evolution of modern medicine from its roots in folk culture will entertain and inform both scientists and general readers alike. It explains the chemical basis of modern pharmacology, and provides a fascinating description of the use and abuse of natural products in various societies through the ages and how this largely trial-and-error process has led to the development of many of the drugs we now take for granted. Primitive cultures especially identified a wealth of edible and poisonous plants, and refined their use in practices related to hunting, healing, magic, religion, and warfare. Today, this heritage can be linked to the origin of such modern-day substances as hemlock and other notorious poisons, as well as to a range of psychoactive drugs like cocaine and LSD, and to beneficial pharmaceuticals including quinine, penicillin, and AZT. However many plant and animal species still remain undiscovered, and as the author notes, much native folk medicine has yet to be investigated. With the rapid destruction of many of the earth's natural resources, this book is particularly timely as these potentially valuable sources could be lost forever. - Amazon

John Mann creatively links science and history together by referencing historical events, like the witch trials, to chemicals produced naturally by microorganisms, plants and animals. I use this book in an introductory science course to demonstrate how important natural products are in our society today -- whether the chemical is beneficial or deadly. Easy reading for the non-scientist, but factual enough for the scientist. - Koron Holland

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