This course is a starting point for the study of medical ethnobotany, which involves the plants found in a particular place and how they can be used to treat illnesses. By examining the historical applications of plant-based medicines, the compounds that are commonly found in plant-based medicines, the potential safety considerations when using plant-based medicines, and how to critically evaluate the labels and packaging of plant-based medicines, you will be prepared to understand the applications of these types of medicines and what information people need to be aware of if they plan on using them. This is not a replacement for consulting with a physician; it is intended as an exploration of alternatives that you may not have considered. In this course, and each course that follows, we recommend that you consult with a medical expert before implementing any medicinal plants into your own personal health plan.
KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS
Examine how different cultures have used plant-based medicines throughout history
Distinguish among the different types of compounds present in plants that may have medicinal, psychoactive, or toxic properties
Understand the correlation between dose and effect of a given compound
Propose potential safety implications of plant-based medicines
Evaluate the labels and packaging in the marketing of different plant-based medicines
Senior Research Associate and Senior Lecturer, Cornell CALS
Giulia Friso obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biology and her Ph.D in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Padua (Italy). She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Biochemistry at Imperial College, London (UK), and at the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF in San Francisco. Giulia was a research scientist at the discovery unit of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in Stockholm (Sweden). She joined the Plant Biology Department at Cornell University in 2001 and is currently senior research associate and senior lecturer.
“My goal as a teacher is to inspire my students in the learning process and engage them in the process of discovery; facilitate mastery of plant biology; and help them integrate concepts of biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, ethnobotany, indigenous knowledge, and bioprospecting. I also aim to transmit my enthusiasm as a researcher and a teacher, influencing my students to commit to my course and interest them in the field of medicinal plants and drug discovery. I am deeply interested to convey a knowledge and awareness of different cultural practices, values, and beliefs, and help my students gain an understanding of their own cultural perspective.”