By: Justin Robeny
After my trip to Florida, it became clear that medicine truly surrounds us in our everyday lives. I took a class last year on botanical medicine, but all that I learned only resonated with me inside the classroom and not out in the real world. There are many plants that we may see every day and have no clue they may contain natural compounds for amazing drug discoveries. For example, one day on the trip we took an airboat tour of Peace River to collect different species of plants that grew in the moist environment alongside the river. Before we began the tour, Dr. Quave noticed a specific tree alongside the river. She asked the boat captain if he could identify the tree, and to our surprise he could not. As it turns out, the tree was actually a willow tree, also termed by its genus Salix. The willow tree has a long history of use in Europe and Native American medicine for chronic pain management, rheumatism, fever, and headache. Furthermore, willow bark contains a compound called salicin, which led to the discovery of one the most widely used drugs today, aspirin.