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Is produced from the active ingredient called salicin. Salicin is extracted
from the bark and leaves of a willow tree. It can also be used to produce
salicylic acid, which is a more effective painkiller than salicin, however, it can
cause irritation to the lining of the stomach and intestines.
Aspirin contains a version of salicylic acid, which does not have any adverse
side effects. It is known as the wonder drug as it treats pain and fever, stops
the formation of blood clots and reduces the swelling of both bones and
Aspirin is not a natural substance unlike salicin as it has been synthesized.
Quinine is an active ingredient that is extracted from the bark of a cinchona
tree. It is used as an antimalarial drug as it can kill plasmodium. Malaria is
caused by single celled parasites called plasmodium, which enter the blood
and can attack red blood cells. Female anopheles mosquitoes are vectors of
plasmodium and they can transmit the parasites when they feed on the
blood of different people.
Other antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine were found to be more
effective and easier to make, however, the parasite became resistant to this
Artemisnin is a new antimalarial drug that kills parasites and stops them
from reproducing in mosquitoes; therefore it stops them from transmitting
the plasmodium. Artemisnin and its derivatives (artelanite and artemether)
also kill the parasites that cause malaria.
Artemisnin is extracted from the Artemisia annua shrub.
Artemisnin is only active in the body for a few hours. But combining it with
other antimalarial drugs increases its effectiveness. This is known as
antimalarial-based combination therapy. This alternative has been
recommended in countries where the parasites are resistant to chloroquine.
The shortage of Artemisia has made people begin to start creating
artemisnin in the laboratory. Genetically engineered yeast cells have been
used to create a substance similar to artemisnin but can be converted into it
easily. Trials have shown that this substance is more effective and cheaper
than the natural product itself.
Artemisnin may also be able to treat cancer as it can kill cancerous cells and
can slow down the development of vessels that supply oxygen to cancerous
tissues, starving the tissue of oxygen, making it die.
Taxol is an anti-cancer drug that is extracted from the bark of a pacific yew
tree. Taxol stops cancerous cells from diving, making them die. There was so
much demand for this; however, the pacific yew tree is a protected species
as it is one of the slowest growing trees in the world. Only a small amount of
Taxol can be extracted, killing the tree at the same time
A substance similar to taxol was found in the needle-like leaves and twigs of
the European yew tree. This substance was chemically modified to form a
semi-synthetic version of taxol, called paclitaxel.
European yew trees replace their needle-leaves quickly; therefore large
amounts of the substance can be extracted without having an affect on the
number of trees present. However, this process is expensive.