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Nature’s Pharmacy — Snoop into Earth’s Medicine Cabinet, See What You Find

by Sep 11, 2019Herbs, Thoughts1 comment

Nature’s Pharmacy — Snoop into Earth’s Medicine Cabinet, See What You Find

by Sep 11, 2019Herbs, Thoughts1 comment

Lawyers, whiskey, nature and patent law — so shitastic for your health and well-being.

Open up your medicine cabinet and take a close look. We triple dog dare you. There’s a virtual garden in there — kind of. It’s actually a Skull & Crossbones Pharma-copia crossed with hints of mint, jasmine, and some tree slime found only in the Amazon rainforest.

Much of the medicine bottle rattle in your bathroom cabinet was born in a test tube — but inspired by nature. That’s because medicinal herbs form countless foundations for pharmaceuticals.

But the problem is you can’t patent a plant. Want to make boatloads of money off God’s Green Earth? Put on a lab coat, hire a patent lawyer, and go Frankenstein on some percolating plants in an Erlenmeyer flask. You just might raise the herbal dead — or a pharmaceutical Prometheus.

The Psychedelic Couch of Existential Patent Law

Can you patent nature and sell it at Drug Mart for $600+ a dose?

That’s a good and highly complex question — especially since the Supreme Court rolled out Mayo v. Prometheus and Assoc. Mol. Pathology v. Myriad Genetics a few years ago. Both decisions broke the AA chip of many a patent lawyer hopelessly sketching case law mumbo jumbo on whiskey stained legal tablets late into the night. A totally straight answer has yet to be found — but a few rough guidelines have been hashed out in the mix.

Basically, to patent a naturally occurring substance, you need to fit the “significantly different” standard — essentially what the United States Patent Office Guidelines describe as “non-naturally occurring and markedly different in structure from the naturally occurring products.”

Not that anything “significantly different” second-guessed the US government from patenting cannabis — a natural herb the Feds continue to claim has absolutely no medical use and a high potential for abuse. (Flip to patent No. 6,630,507 in the patent registryit’s also likely tattooed on Willie Nelson’s left ass cheek.)

Somewhere in a dark dank basement, reality is a bright orange sunflower couch from the 70s. Nobody can explain how it got there — but it reeks of bong water, cat piss, and may contain the seminal origins of Western Civilization.

The Indiana Jones of Plants: “Nature Heals”

Take it from the “Indiana Jones of Herbs:” Molecularly speaking, plants help you grow, breathe, be healthy and happy. As renowned herbalist Chris Kilham points out: “We could not be alive without plants. Fundamentally we need them to exist.” We are plants; plants are us — we’re practically second cousins twice removed. That’s why plants feed us, nurture us, heal us and protect us from harm. “We share biology in all kinds of clever ways,” Kilham explains. “We have a more intimate relationship with plants than anything but water and air.” And since plants pack more medicine than a suitcase to Vegas, the list of pharmaceuticals inspired by nature reads as long as Otis Redding’s Greatest Hits catalog.

  • Aspirin — based on a naturally occurring polyphenol salicylic acid, a plant compound found in willow bark.
  • Digoxin — a heart medicine that comes from the foxglove plant.
  • Fingolimod — used to treat multiple sclerosis, a modified compound derived from the bug-eating fungus Isaria sinclairii.
  • Sudafed — originally contained Ephedra sinica, a scraggly bush used in traditional Chinese medicine.

And there are bucketloads more if you’ve got the time and attention span.

Shitastic Pharmaceuticals According to Script

As Kilham explains, the pattern basically breaks down like this — medicines more naturally derived from plants tend to be incredibly cheap. That’s a bummer for the drug companies who don’t want to sling generic tablets for 3 cents a piece — they instead create a highly synthesized replacement that’s less natural, doesn’t work as well and is totally shitastic for your overall health. Like Men in Black 1, 2, 3, and 4, it’s a script drug companies follow down to a formula — and it works nearly every time.

“It’s not that the drugs that follow are any better than the plant derived drugs,” Kilham observes. “It’s that they can be patented, and that’s really all. In many cases they are far more toxic and far less effective.”

The reason these drugs can’t compete with nature isn’t rocket science. It’s bioscience. There are protective compounds in plants that protect the plant — and those same compounds protect us.

“Our bodies can better deal with things in nature because we share biology,” Kilham explains. “We don’t share any biology with synthetic chemicals. So either we have to break them down somehow or excrete them or store them.”

Sunflower Goddesses in Hi-Top Sneakers

Okay, we’ll admit synthesizing nature sometimes has its place in medicine — especially when it comes to rare and endangered ingredients like psychedelic toad milk or sun bear gallbladders. Too many African rhinos graze the Sahara looking like Hollywood movie stars fresh from the nose job clinic. (We’re kidding — the reality is actually darker than the ending of Michael Jackson’s 1993 Dangerous World Tour.)

But when herbal medicine is used ethically, responsibly, and intelligently, we share a deep and symbiotic kinship with the natural plant world.

And some of the best stuff doesn’t only grow in the Amazon. It’s in your backyard, the ditch by the side of the road, rooting in Grandma’s Azaleas. Nature tends to be abundantly prolific and medicinal — dandelions, peppermint, honey, Mugwort, hemp seed, CBD, St. John’s Wort, Star Anise, caapi — the list goes on and on.

Humans have been soaking up the herbal plant kingdom for millions of years. Because when you get down to it, we’re pretty much life-size sunflowers plugged into AirPods and distressed Levis — playing air guitar in the garden of the Earth and getting down on a Tuesday.

And that’s pretty cool. So let’s enjoy it. You can take it in the form of a pill, if you’d like, although it could come with a laundry list of side effects like heart attacks and farting. We prefer to put a little nature in a pipe and smoke it.

Mathew Gallagher

Mathew Gallagher

Wordsmith Specialist

A freelance writer for hire, Matt Gallagher is the face and voice behind Web Copy Magician. He enjoys Bear Blend as a tea to spiritually reconnect with nature and the therapeutic wonders of chlorophyll.

1 Comment

  1. William Gray


    DeLIGHTful commentary!!!!!!!!SO true, Dude, SOOOOO True!!
    There is a book, published in the.60’s? that is a sort of Autobiography of a white woman who goes on a 3-5 year quest into the Rain Forest and hangs with a Healer who agrees to teach her all he knows because the ‘youth’ of his Tribe couldn’t care less…..
    She does her thing with him, records all of the amazing info about the plants he shows her and then heads back to the US of A to ‘spread the Word’ to the Big Pharma guys about what she has been taught.
    None of them cared!
    UNLESS they could, as you said, synthesize it and sell it for big chunk of change to the gullible public it meant nothing to them.

    Reply

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