What Medicines Come From Plants?

Medications that come from plants include morphine, which originates from the opium poppy plant, and aspirin, which comes from the White Willow Tree, explains Harvard School of Public Health. Another example is vinblastine, which is used in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is made with compounds from periwinkles.

While some medicinal drugs are designed synthetically, many are either made with or designed to emulate natural plant, animal and microbial compounds, notes Harvard School of Public Health. Nature is full of clues on how to address many health concerns because organisms naturally develop defenses against diseases and infections that threaten their survival. Since different types of living organisms share much in common at the molecular and genetic levels, it is possible to use animal, plant and microbial compounds in the treatment of human health.

Azidothymidine and ACE inhibitors are examples of medications developed using animal compounds, explains Harvard School of Public Health. Azidothymidine, a drug prescribed to HIV and AIDS patients, is designed to emulate compounds that Cryptotethya crypta, a marine sponge, produces. ACE inhibitors are important in the management of high blood pressure and are created using the venom of the pit viper snake, notes Discover Magazine. The snakes naturally use ACE inhibitors to lower their prey’s blood pressure until it blacks out.