Season 1, Episode 2
Use headphones for immersive audio
We know plants are healers, of course. But they’re also so much more. They have shaped our history. Just a few centuries ago, they drove exploration, started wars, transformed economies. Today, they are the bedrock of big pharma and traditional medicine empires.
We can’t fault the modern life-saving drugs that Western medicine has given us. But we wonder if something effervescent doesn’t get lost when plants become pills? Perhaps the traditional and holistic healing framework that medicinal plants once belonged to?
Time Markers (mins: sec)
- 0:28 – Murder on the Karakoram Pass
- 6:00 – Overview of the episode
- 7:34 – Chapter 1: Plants as healers
- 12:00 – Chapter 2: Plants as drivers of Empire
- 19:00 – The story of healer Itty Achuden
- 22:23 – Chapter 3: Plants as commodities
- 23:40 – A visit to a Madras bazaar with a British surgeon
- 29:16 – Chapter 4: Agents of conquest
The influx of technology such as pocket watches beginning in the 1860s transformed India’s traditional medical systems
In India, a rich tradition of Disease Goddesses assigned a female deity to each illness. She was believed both to cause and protect from the disease.
A Sanskrit scholar narrates a tale from one of the oldest Ayurvedic texts, Charaka-samhita, that has surprising resonance with our current lives
Can the great divide between traditional medicine like Ayurveda and allopathic medicines ever be bridged? Ft. Annamma Spudich
Folk Healing is the most ancient form of medicine. G. Hariramamurthi has visited more than 12,000 villages across India to document folk medicine practices
Bower, H. A Trip to Turkistan. The Geographical Journal 5, no. 3: 240-57; 1895. doi:10.2307/1773933.
Chakrabarti, Pratik. “Neither of meate nor drinke, but what the Doctor alloweth”: Medicine amidst War and Commerce in Eighteenth-Century Madras. Bull Hist Med. 2006 Spring; 80(1): 1–38. doi: 10.1353/bhm.2006.0009
Freedman, Paul. Search for Flavors Influenced Our World. Yale Center for the Study of Globalization; 2003. https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/search-flavors-influenced-our-world. Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.
Ghanapatigal, Govind Prakash Bhat and Bhat, Satyanarayana; audio production K. Suresh. Powerful Mantra for Medicinal Healing, Oshadhaya Suktam, Yajur Veda. https://youtu.be/AE2RD07FXE0; 2020. More info at https://ghanapati.com/
Gottardi, Davide; Bukvicki, Danka; Prasad, Sahdeo, Tyagi, Amit K. Beneficial Effects of Spices in Food Preservation and Safety. Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol. 7. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01394. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01394
Grove, Richard. Indigenous Knowledge and the Significance of South-West India for Portuguese and Dutch Constructions of Tropical Nature. Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 121-143; 1996. https://www.jstor.org/stable/312903
Indian Medicinal Plants – Fact Sheet. National Medicinal Plants Board, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. https://nmpb.nic.in/content/medicinal-plants-fact-sheet. Accessed Sept. 12, 2020.
Jaiswal, Yogini S. and Williams, Leonard L. A glimpse of Ayurveda – The forgotten history and principles of Indian traditional medicine. J Tradit Complement Med. 7(1): 50–53; 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.02.002
Krishnamurti, Chandrasekhar and Rao, SSC Chakra. The isolation of morphine by Serturner. Indian J Anaesth. 2016 Nov; 60(11): 861–862. doi: 10.4103/0019-5049.193696
Manilal, K.S. Medicinal Plants Described in Hortus Malabaricus, the First Indian Regional Flora Published in 1678 and Its Relevance to the People of India Today. In: Multidisciplinary Approaches in Angiosperm Systematics, Volume II, 558-565. Maiti, Gaur Gopal and Mukherjee, Sobhan Kumar, Editors. Department of Botany, University of Kalyani; 2012.
Manilal, K.S. A Study on the Role of Itty Achuden in the Compilation of Hortus Malabaricus. In: Hortus Malabaricus and the Socio-Cultural Heritage of India. Chapter 3, pp. 41-75. Indian Association for Angiosperm Taxonomy; 2012.
Pandey, VN and Pandey, A. A study of the Nāvanītaka: the Bower manuscript. Bull Indian Inst Hist Med Hyderabad. 1988; 18(1): 1-46.
Pasha, AK. Arabs and Euro-Asian maritime contacts. Journal of Historical Archaeology & Anthropological Sciences. Vol. 3 (3): 418‒429; 2018.
Prasad, Amba. Vasso da Gama and the Discovery of the Sea-route to India. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 37 (1976), p. 336. http://www.jstor.com/stable/44138961
Ram, H.Y. On the English edition of Van Rheede’s Hortus Malabaricus by K. S. Manilal (2003). Current Science, 89, 1672-1680; 2005.
Raman, Anantanarayanan. Plant lists from ‘olde’ Madras (1698-1703). Current Science. 2018; Vol. 115, No. 12. pp. 2336-2341.
Ravishankar, B and Shukla, V J. Indian Systems of Medicine: A Brief Profile. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2007; 4(3): 319–337; 2007. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v4i3.31226
The Roxburgh Artists. http://apps.kew.org/floraindica/htm/artists.htm. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2006). Accessed September 12, 2020.
Sealy, J. R. The Roxburgh Flora Indica Drawings at Kew. Kew Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 2 (1956), pp. 297-348. http://www.jstor.com/stable/4109049
Spudich, Annamma. Such Treasure & Rich Merchandize: Indian Botanical Knowledge in 16th and 17th century European Books; in conjunction with the exhibit “Such Treasure and Rich Merchandize” at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, Bangalore, February 2008.
VS, Kumar and V, Navaratnam. Neem (Azadirachta indica): prehistory to contemporary medicinal uses to humankind. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013; 3(7): 505-514. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60105-7
WHO global report on traditional and complementary medicine 2019. Geneva: World
Health Organization; 2019. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Winterbottom, Anna. Medicine and Botany in the Making of Madras, 1680–1720. In: The East India Company and the Natural World. Damodaran, Vinita; Winterbottom, Anna; Lester, Alan. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.