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In the footsteps of William Withering

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the US Food and Drug Administation (FDA) is going to give more consideration to plant-based products for approval for medicine. The FDA is one of the world’s more stringent watchdogs, so this is interesting news. Some might say it’s about time since Dr William Withering started using foxgloves and their digitalis content for heart failure in 1785, having learnt of its efficacy from a farmer. In Oxford in 1763, the Rev. Edward Stone discovered that the bark of the willow, which contains a precursor of aspirin, reduced fevers.

The British company Phynova has been given permission from the FDA to test a hepatitis botanical drug. Milk thistle has been used for years without FDA approval to treat chronic Hepatitis C. The new drug will be a combination of milk thistle and three Chinese plants. This British company appears to be the only company that has moved this far down the path of FDA approval for a botanical drug.

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