Dangerous Garden: The Quest For Plants To Change Our Lives

$57.73 New In stock Publisher: Harvard University Press
SKU: DADAX067401104X
ISBN : 9780674011045
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Dangerous Garden: The Quest For Plants To Change Our Lives

Dangerous Garden: The Quest For Plants To Change Our Lives

As our earliest ancestors migrated out of Africa, they encountered entirely new floras. By sampling these, they found plants that appeared to (and sometimes did) heal wounds, cure maladies, and ease troubled minds. This process of discovery continues today, as multinational pharmaceutical companies bioprospect in the globe's remaining wild places for the next tamoxifen or digitalis. The gardener and botanist David Stuart tells the fascinating story of botanical medicine, revealing more than soothing balms and heroic cures. Most of the truly powerful and effective medicinal plants are double-edged, with a dark side to balance the light. They can heal or kill, calm or enslave, lift depression or summon our gods and monsters. Often the difference between these polar effects is a simple change in dosage. Stuart chronicles the tale of how the herbal materia medica of healing and killing plants has sparked wars, helped establish intercontinental trade routes, and seeded fortunes. As plant species traveled the globe, their medicinal uses evolved over miles and through centuries. Plants once believed to be cure-alls are now considered too dangerous for use. Others, once so valuable that they sowed the wealth of empires, are merely spices on the kitchen shelf. David Stuart recounts engrossing human stories too, not only of the scientists, explorers, and doctors who gathered, named, and prescribed these plants but also the shamans, magicians, and quacks who claimed to possess the ultimate herbal aphrodisiac or elixir. From BooklistEvening primrose sounds so soothing, and belladonna could be an opera, but what, after all, is in a name? Stuart reveals how even the most benign-sounding plants can harbor a deadly underside. In the current age of homeopathy and aromatherapy, nutraceuticals and natural healing, knowing the effects certain plants can have on the body and mind can mean the difference between healing and harming the user. It was not always so. Ancient civilizations tried one concoction after another until the patient was either cured or dead. As he brilliantly guides the reader through the history of humanity's complex relationship with the plant kingdom, and our relentless pursuit of remedies, restoratives, or recreational panaceas, Stuart reminds us that as long as humans have walked the earth, their destinies have been intricately interwoven with those of the plants around them. Lavishly illustrated, exhaustively researched, Stuart's investigation of the plants that have changed civilizations is an opulent, intriguing account of both plants and the people who exploit them.Carol HaggasCopyright

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