Medicinal plant lecture: The reality and the bizarre

When and where

13 June 2016
Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, Regents Park, London, NW1 4LE

Past event

Medicinal plant lecture: The reality and the bizarre

Medicinal plants: an introduction by Dr Jeffrey Aronson, honorary consultant physician and honorary clinical pharmacologist, Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford
Hallucinogenic plants, The Devil's Foot: a study in self-experimentation? by Professor Rod Flower FRS, professor of biochemical pharmacology, William Harvey Research Institute, University of London.

13.30 Registration

14.00 Medicinal plants, an introduction
Dr Jeffrey Aronson

Topics to be discussed include: What is a medicine? What is a plant? What is a herb? What is a herbal medicine? Who uses herbal medicines and how much do they use? Herbal medicines of proven benefit. Adverse reactions to herbal medicines. Contaminants and adulterants. Drug interactions with herbal medicines. Regulatory matters

15.00 Tea and garden tour of relevant plants: the garden fellows


16.00 Hallucinogenic plants, The Devils Foot - a study in self-experimentation?
Professor Rod Flower

Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, investigated many strange cases but few were as bizarre as the case of The Devil's Foot in which two members of a family were rendered insane and another died, apparently as a result of exposure to the fumes produced when a mysterious plant extract was burned.

Many of Holmes's cases were, of course, informed by Conan Doyle's knowledge and experience as a physician. But was The Devil's Foot a real plant or did Conan Doyle invent it as a literary device for dramatic purposes. Or, was his description of the symptoms based - as some believe - on Conan Doyle's experimentation with hallucinogenic substances?

Rod Flower is a pharmacologist with an interest in psychoactive drugs. In this lecture, he will address these questions together with a neuroscientist who will discuss the effects of hallucinogens on the brain as revealed by neuro-imaging technqiues.

17.00 Refreshments