Medical Drugs Are Often Derived from Plants
by Fabian Perez, age 14
Drugs are commonly prescribed by doctors to help people who are sick or injured. Many of them have been used for thousands of years in various forms and combinations.
Substances that change the way the body or mind work are known as drugs or medicinal plants. They are taken in many different forms. Patches, pills and liquids are just some examples.
Antibiotics, such as penicillin, kill the bacteria that cause infections. Analgesics, or painkillers, prevent pain messages from getting to a brain. Sedatives have a calming effect, which helps people sleep. Anesthetics numb the body’s nerves and are used in operations.
Four thousand years ago, a Chinese emperor wrote a book listing 300 medicinal plants; many of them are still used today. In the 1700’s William Withering, an English doctor, began to look at drugs scientifically, specifically digitalis, a heart drug found in the foxglove plant. The first modern drug industry got its start in 1899, when a German company called Bayer manufactured the pain killer aspirin.
Every drug has the potential to be dangerous. Even the drugs that are prescribed by doctors are risky if they are not used carefully. Addicting drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, nicotine or even alcohol, are among the most hazardous. It is very important for people to know how drugs affect their body before taking them.
[Source: The Kingfish Children’s Encyclopedia]