Fruits, leaves, stems
Roots, leaves, stems (uncooked fruits may be slightly poisonous)
Leaves (when eaten)
Useful and Poisonous Plants, Fungi, an d A gae 557
MEDICINAL PLANTS, FUNGI, AND ALGAE
Many modern medicines prescribed by Western doctors are synthetic or include synthetic substances, but a significant number still contain drugs naturally produced by plants, fungi, and algae. As recently as 50 years ago, the vast majority of medicines used in the treatment of human diseases and ailments were plant or fungus produced, and both Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, practiced for thousands of years, are still today largely plant based. Plants, fungi, and algae rarely, if ever, produce medicinal drugs in pure form, but the mixtures of drugs, vitamins, and minerals found in them tend to work together synergistically. This often results in the combinations being more effective than they would be if the substances were each used medicinally in isolated form. Oriental medicinal practices carry the synergistic aspects further by combining up to several different organisms in prescriptions for given ailments. It should be noted that the amounts and potencies of medicinal drugs produced by plants, fungi, or algae can vary considerably from population to population or even from organism to organism. Accordingly, many reputable purveyors of plant, fungal, or algal medicines routinely have batches tested to ensure standardization and quality for the user. Table A3.4 includes a sampling of plants, fungi, and algae associated with past and some present medicinal uses. Some of the drugs concerned are prescribed for specific ailments by modern medical practitioners, while others are a part of folk medicine still practiced in rural areas. Caution: Do not use any of the plants, fungi, or algae listed here for medicinal purposes without consulting a reputable, qualified health practictioner.
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