After arriving from South Asia approximately a thousand years ago, cannabis quickly spread throughout the African continent. European accounts of cannabis in Africa—often fictionalized and reliant upon racial stereotypes—shaped widespread myths about the plant and were used to depict the continent as a cultural backwater and Africans as predisposed to drug use. These myths continue to influence contemporary thinking about cannabis. In The African Roots of Marijuana, Chris S. Duvall corrects common misconceptions while providing an authoritative history of cannabis as it flowed into, throughout, and out of Africa. Duvall shows how preexisting smoking cultures in Africa transformed the plant into a fast-acting and easily dosed drug and how it later became linked with global capitalism and the slave trade. People often used cannabis to cope with oppressive working conditions under colonialism, as a recreational drug, and in religious and political movements. This expansive look at Africa's importance to the development of human knowledge about marijuana will challenge everything readers thought they knew about one of the world's most ubiquitous plants.
For over a century, plant specialists worldwide have sought to transform healing plants in African countries into pharmaceuticals. And for equally as long, conflicts over these medicinal plants have endured, from stolen recipes and toxic tonics to unfulfilled promises of laboratory equipment and usurped personal patents. In Bitter Roots, Abena Dove Osseo-Asare draws on publicly available records and extensive interviews with scientists and healers in Ghana, Madagascar, and South Africa to interpret how African scientists and healers, rural communities, and drug companies—including Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Unilever—have sought since the 1880s to develop drugs from Africa’s medicinal plants.
Osseo-Asare recalls the efforts to transform six plants into pharmaceuticals: rosy periwinkle, Asiatic pennywort, grains of paradise, Strophanthus, Cryptolepis, and Hoodia. Through the stories of each plant, she shows that herbal medicine and pharmaceutical chemistry have simultaneous and overlapping histories that cross geographic boundaries. At the same time, Osseo-Asare sheds new light on how various interests have tried to manage the rights to these healing plants and probes the challenges associated with assigning ownership to plants and their biochemical components.
A fascinating examination of the history of medicine in colonial and postcolonial Africa, Bitter Roots will be indispensable for scholars of Africa; historians interested in medicine, biochemistry, and society; and policy makers concerned with drug access and patent rights.
Could that weed you just pulled have provided a cure for cancer? Scientists have warned that the destruction of the world’s rain forests may mean that plant species are being lost before we recognize their potential as sources of new medicines. This is equally true for the plants much closer to home. New Jersey, while heavily industrialized and densely populated, is extraordinarily rich in plant resources. Botany and Healing: Medicinal Plants of New Jersey and the Region describes nearly 500 species of plants found in the Garden State and in nearby areas that have been used medicinally.
Cecil Still lists plants by family and, within each family, by genus and species, to underscore the close relationships among medicinally valuable species. This arrangement is familiar to every botanist and easy for the amateur naturalist and herbalist to use as well. For each entry, Still discusses both the natural history and the historical and modern medicinal uses of the plant: scientific and common names, description, habitat, geographic range, and preparations and applications in Native American, European, African, and Asian herbal traditions. Most species are illustrated with Still’s line drawings. The book also contains a helpful index (with cross references by usage, common or scientific name), a glossary of terms, and a list of resources for further reading.
Botany and Healing explains the history and present status of the uses of herbal medicines, explains what makes a plant medicinal (or poisonous), how herbal medicines are prepared for use, and why they should be used only with great caution.
Denver Landmarks and Historic Districts, Second Edition is the newest, most thorough guide to Denver’s 51 historic districts and more than 331 individually landmarked properties. This lavishly illustrated volume celebrates Denver’s oldest banks, churches, clubs, hotels, libraries, schools, restaurants, mansions, and show homes.
Denver is unusually fortunate to retain much of its significant architectural heritage. The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission (1967), Historic Denver, Inc. (1970), Colorado Preservation, Inc. (1984), and History Colorado (1879) have all worked to identify and preserve Denver buildings notable for architectural, geographical, or historical significance. Since the 1970s, Denver has designated more landmarks than any other US city of comparable size. Many of these landmarks, both well-known and obscure, are open to the public. These landmarks and districts have helped make Denver one of the healthiest and most attractive core cities in the United States, transforming what was once Skid Row into the Lower Downtown Historic District of million-dollar lofts and $7 craft beers.
Entries include the Daniels & Fisher Tower, the Brown Palace Hotel, Red Rocks Outdoor Amphitheatre, Elitch Theatre, Fire Station No. 7, the Richthofen Castle, the Washington Park Boathouse and Pavilion, and the Capitol Hill, Five Points, and Highlands historic districts. Denver Landmarks and Historic Districts highlights the many officially designated buildings and neighborhoods of note. This crisply written guide serves as a great starting point for rubbernecking around Denver, whether by motor vehicle, by bicycle, or afoot.
Myrtlewood is most often thought of as beautiful wood for woodworking, but to Native people on the southern Oregon coast it was an important source of food. The roasted nuts taste like bitter chocolate, coffee, and burnt popcorn. The roots of Skunk Cabbage provided another traditional food source, while also serving as a medicine for colds. In tribal mythology, the leaves of Skunk Cabbage were thought to be tents where the Little People sheltered.
Very little has been published until now on the ethnobotany of western Oregon indigenous peoples. Ethnobotany of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians documents the use of plants by these closely-related coastal tribes, covering a geographical area that extends roughly from Cape Perpetua on the central coast, south to the Coquille River, and from the Coast Range west to the Pacific shore. With a focus on native plants and their traditional uses, it also includes mention of farming crops, as well as the highly invasive Himalayan blackberry, which some Oregon coast Indians called the "white man's berry."
The cultures of the Coos Bay, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw are distinct from the Athabaskan speaking people to the south, and the Alsea to the north. Today, many tribal members are reviving ancient arts of basket weaving and woodworking, and many now participate in annual intertribal canoe events. Ethnobotany of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians contributes to this cultural renaissance by filling an important gap in the historical record. It is an invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to learn about the indigenous cultures of the central and southern Oregon coast, as well as those who are interested in Pacific Northwest plants and their cultural uses.
Over many millennia, farmers across the world have domesticated literally thousands of species and developed tens of thousands of varieties of these plants. Despite the astonishing agricultural diversity that existed long ago, the world’s current food base has narrowed to a dangerous level. By studying the long and dynamic history of farming in the ancient past, archaeology can play a part in helping ensure the stability of the human food supply by identifying once-important crops and showing where and how such crops were grown in the past. Thanks to this work, extinct crops might even be redomesticated from their wild progenitors.
New Lives for Ancient and Extinct Crops profiles nine plant species that were important contributors to human diets and had medicinal uses in antiquity: maygrass, chenopod, marshelder, agave, little barley, chia, arrowroot, little millet, and bitter vetch. Each chapter is written by a well-known scholar, who illustrates the global value of the ancient crop record to inform the present. From eastern and western North America, Mesoamerica, South America, western Asia, and south-central Asia, the contributors provide examples of the unexpected wealth of information available in the archaeological record about ancient and extinct crops.
Plants have been used to treat disease throughout human history. On a clay slab that dates back approximately five thousand years, the Sumerians recorded medicinal recipes that made use of hundreds of plants, including poppy, henbane, and mandrake. During the Middle Ages, monks commonly grew and prescribed plants such as sage, anise, and mint in their monasteries. And as the market for herbal remedies and natural medicine grows, we continue to search the globe for plants and plant compounds to combat our various ailments.
In Phytomedicines, Herbal Drugs, and Poisons, Ben-Erik van Wyk offers a richly illustrated, scientific guide to medicinal and poisonous plants, including those used for their mind-altering effects. Van Wyk covers approximately 350 species—from Aloe vera and Ephedra sinica to Cannabis sativa and Coffea arabica—detailing their botanical, geographical, pharmacological, and toxicological data as well as the chemical structures of the active compounds in each. Readers learn, for example, that Acacia senegal, or gum acacia, is used primarily in Sudan and Ethiopia as a topical ointment to protect the skin and mucosa from bacterial and fungal infections, and that Aconitum napellus, more commonly known as aconite, is used in cough syrups but can be psychedelic when smoked or absorbed through the skin.
With 350 full-color photographs featuring the plants and some of their derivative products, Phytomedicines, Herbal Drugs, and Poisons will be an invaluable reference not only for those in the health care field but also for those growing their own medicinal herb gardens, as well as anyone who needs a quick answer to whether a plant is a panacea or a poison.
Pythagoras, the ancient Greek mathematician, did not himself eat fava beans in any form; in fact, he banned his followers from eating them. Cultural geographer Frederick Simoons disputes the contention that Pythagoras established that ban because he recognized the danger of favism, a disease that afflicts genetically-predisposed individuals who consume fava beans. Contradicting more deterministic explanations of history, Simoons argues that ritual considerations led to the Pythagorean ban.
In his fascinating and thorough new study, Simoons examines plants associated with ritual purity, fertility, prosperity, and life, on the one hand, or with ritual impurity, sickness, ill fate, and death, on the other. Plants of Life, Plants of Death offers a wealth of detail from not only history, ethnography, religious studies, classics, and folklore, but also from ethnobotany and medicine. Simoons surveys a vast geographical region extending from Europe through the Near East to India and China. He tells the story of India's giant sacred fig trees, the pipal and the banyan, and their changing role in ritual, religion, and as objects of pilgrimage from antiquity to the present day; the history of mandrake and ginseng, “man roots” whose uses from Europe to China have been shaped by the perception that they are human in form; and the story of garlic and onions as impure foods of bad odor in that same broad region.
Simoons also identifies and discusses physical characteristics of plants that have contributed to their contrasting ritual roles, and he emphasizes the point that the ritual roles of plants are also shaped by basic human concerns—desire for good health and prosperity, hopes for fertility and offspring, fear of violence, evil and death—that were as important in antiquity as they are today.
“It dazzles as a piece of scholarship.”—Daniel W. Gade, University of Vermont
Reissued as a companion edition to Trying to Give Ease: Tommie Bass and the Story of Herbal Medicine, this illustrated reference guide covers over 700 medicinal plants, of which more than 150 are readily obtainable in health food stores and other outlets. Based on the Appalachian herbal practice of the late A. L. "Tommie" Bass, each account of a plant includes the herbalist’s comment, an assessment of the plant’s efficacy, and current information on its chemical constituents and pharmacological effects. Unlike most herbal guides, this is a comprehensive, fully documented reference work that interweaves scientific evaluation with folkloric use.
In Trying to Give Ease, John K. Crellin and Jane Philpott focus on the life, practices, and accumulated knowledge of the late A. L. "Tommie" Bass, a widely known and admired Appalachian herbalist. Informed by insights drawn from several disciplines, particularly anthropology, their broad historical analyses of self-care practices and herbal remedies draw heavily on recorded interviews with Bass and his patients. Special attention is given to local resources that shape alternative medicine, the backgrounds of herbal practitioners, and the cultural currency of medical concepts once central to professional medicine and now less common. The authors report on both the physical effects of herbal remedies and the psychological factors that have an impact on their success. Trying to Give Ease is a companion to A Reference Guide to Medicinal Plants, also published by Duke University Press.