Do Herbal Remedies Count as Real Medicine?
—by Jessica B. Turner and Daisy Simmons
You don’t have to travel back in time to leech-sucking days to see that all claims for medicinal value were not created equal. Today, miracle cures are everywhere—including, sometimes, the natural products aisle.
Pharma-farming: Can Real Medicine Come From Plants?
— by Jessica B. Turner and Daisy Simmons
Real medicine only works when it’s made with complicated, manmade ingredients, right? Nope! For a closer look at our diverse options for healing, let’s head outside and explore Mama Nature’s surprisingly impressive pharmaceutical supplier: the mighty plant kingdom.
You heard us right—plants and the chemicals within them have the potential to save lives. For example, numerous anti-cancer drugs are derived from plants and trees, such as vinblastine and vincristine which come from the Madagascar periwinkle, and taxol, which comes from the Pacific Yew tree. In fact, right now in North America and Western Europe, plants are a key ingredient in 25 percent of all prescriptions.
When you wash your face, the goal is to get yourself nice and clean—not slather your body in plastic. But, bizarre as it may sound, many exfoliating scrubs and other personal care products like soap and toothpaste are made with tiny plastic particles called microbeads.
And though they’re so small you might never even notice they’re there, their very smallness has become a big problem in our waterways, according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Olga Lyandres.
Meet the Contenders
The crowd roars as the rivals enter the arena. Who will win this epic match: bottled or tap water?
A shiny clear bottle takes the ring, and it sure looks like a champ. Its factory-sealing suggests safety, its plastic material, convenience, and the pristine waterfalls gracing its label ooze purity—together inspiring confidence in Team Bottle’s enormous fan base. Yes, according to the International Bottled Water Association, Americans drank 9.67 billion gallons of bottled water in 2012, up 6.7 percent from 2011. That puts its sales numbers ahead of milk, juice, and coffee, according to Columbia University Water Center analysis.
“Have you even seen where it comes from?” someone jeers as the scrappy faucet-sourced challenger jogs into starting position. Still, filtered tap water has its own diehards, too, with groups like Food and Water Watch and Environmental Working Group (EWG) cheering it along as just as safe and far more sustainable than bottled.
When I go to the store these days to buy a refill for my liquid soap dispensers at home, it is nearly impossible to find liquid soap in the stores that are not “antibacterial.” I have heard for years that antibacterial soaps are suspected of helping to create antibiotic resistant bacteria.
So at EcoMyths it got us thinking…does using antibacterial soap get us cleaner than regular soap and does it impact the environment the same way that antibiotics do? That is, does it get into natural systems and then back into our own?
To get to the bottom of this question, today on Worldview, host Jerome McDonnell and I discussed that topic with our friend and water expert, Olga Lyandres. Olga is research manager at the Alliance for the Great Lakes to help us sort out the issues about antibacterial soaps.