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Thread: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

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    Moderator Julieanne's Avatar
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    Default American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Micah Dettweiler, James T. Lyles, Kate Nelson, Brandon Dale, Ryan M. Reddinger, Daniel V. Zurawski & Cassandra L. Quave

    May22 2019

    A shortage of conventional medicine during the American Civil War (1861–1865) spurred Confederate physicians to use preparations of native plants as medicines. In 1863, botanist Francis Porcher compiled a book of medicinal plants native to the southern United States, including plants used in Native American traditional medicine. In this study, we consulted Porcher’s book and collected samples from three species that were indicated for the formulation of antiseptics:


    Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44242-y
    Last edited by Julieanne; 06-01-19 at 06:38 AM.

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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    It's regrettable that the disappearance of tropical rain forests may take with it, hundreds of medicinal plants whose potential will never be known. Botanists are limited not only by the loss of plants but also of the elders, who could identify them and were familiar with their healing properties.
    Of the species mentioned in the study, the only one I'm familiar with is Quercus alba, White Oak, so I consulted the most comprehensive volume of medicinal herbs on my shelves. White Oak isn't listed; English Oak is, and treats a variety of conditions, but none that are antibacterial. Just curious...
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    Moderator Julieanne's Avatar
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    A quick Google search found this, among others: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net...=white-oak.php

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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Thoughtful of you, Julie. Thanks!
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Here's a more in-depth article on the same fascinating topic: https://phys.org/news/2019-05-civil-...hoRuh9dwnxAzIU
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    Veteran Member grulla's Avatar
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    A fictional Civil War movie motivated me to make this comment (#4) about tree moss in last January's "maggot" thread: https://www.hawkeshealth.net/communi...hlight=surgeon

    And this link mentioned the use of moss in WW1 and much earlier, which was not mentioned here today:
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scien...WWI-180963081/
    Last edited by grulla; 06-02-19 at 08:41 AM.

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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Islander and Julieanne, thanks for the additional references on plant medicines. I'm happy to see this info. resurface and get the attention it deserves, especially given the growing numbers of antibiotics that are losing their effectiveness to treat certain infections. Along with these plants, the maggot therapy and humble moss--mentioned by grulla, we must not forget honey. Honey may have healed more wounds and prevented more amputations during the Civil War than anything else. I just learned that there's an enzyme in honey that continues to produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide that continuously fight against infection and aids the healing process.

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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    I always knew honey was a healer, but this is the first time I've heard of that enzyme. One more thing in honey's toolkit — amazing!
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Grulla, that's a fascinating article on sphagnum moss. It grows everywhere in the swampy or boggy areas of Maine and NH woods. What a remarkable plant! And its properties are useful to know if one is ever injured while hiking or camping, too.
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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Quote Originally Posted by Islander View Post
    I always knew honey was a healer, but this is the first time I've heard of that enzyme.
    The bee enzyme is called glucose oxidase. Hydrogen peroxide--which is responsible for the antibacterial, antimicrobial properties of honey--is produced during glucose oxidation, which requires the glucose oxidase enzyme. Interestingly, the enzyme is found in all honeys, but its concentration varies from honey to honey, depending on several factors, including the age, health, and the diets of the bees. Yet another reason to keep our bees healthy!

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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    So maybe the expensive Manuka honey is higher in this enzyme? You didn't mention the type of plant the honey is collected from. In this case, a variety of melaleuca, commonly called tea tree. Though you did say diet, so perhaps that covers it!

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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Manuka is one of the best types of honey, but may not necessarily contain more of the enzyme - glucose oxidase. There are a number of enzymes in honey, including one called catalase. If a particular type of honey (like manuka) has more catalase than glucose oxidase, then the amount of hydrogen peroxide is reduced because catalase destroys glucose oxidase. There are commercially available "medical-grade" honeys available, like Revamil. If I were treating a diabetic wound or an infection with honey, I'd just purchase a medical grade honey.

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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    How are "medical grade honeys" identified? Is there a tag, a label, an icon, a numerical grade (as on manuka honey)? Or are they simply specific brands, like the one you mentioned, Mr. Wizard?
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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    I only know medical honey by brand names. The 3 most popular brands are: 1. Revamil (honey produced in controlled greenhouses by a Dutch company); 2. ManukaGuard (honey sourced from Manuka trees by a New Zealand company); and 3. Medihoney (honey sourced from Manuka trees in Australia & New Zealand by a New Jersey company). These companies sell a large assortment of medical honey products, including ointments, balms, antiseptic cleanses, patches, bandaids, etc. Here's a link to their products:
    https://www.amazon.com/s?k=medical+h...b_sb_ss_i_1_13

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    Default Re: American Civil War Plant Medicines Inhibit Growth, Biofilm Formation

    Thanks, Mr. Wiz!
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