An Overview Of Plant-Based Drugs

plant-based drugs

Plant-based drugs have been used for a long time, and almost 70,000 species have been screened for their possible usage in medicines. This is an ancient practice that is still preserved today. Some therapies are delivered through generations, while others have appeared more recently. The use of these drugs is underreported, generating chronic ambiguity regarding their therapeutic adequacy and severe and chronic side effects. But these drugs are also proven to be beneficial for many diseases. These are seen as safe and more advantageous than synthetic chemicals.

What are the common plant-based drugs?

Almost 120 essential plant-based drugs are used in one or more countries worldwide. But the most common drugs used in the medical world are given below:

  1. Aspirin 

Aspirin is used for anti-clotting and pain relief. Salicylic acid is the critical component of aspirin, which Hippocrates first detected. The father of medicine recognised that the white powder from willow bark helps to reduce pain, aches, and fevers. There are several varieties of willow bark, each of which carries a different capability of salicylic acid. The acid reacts with acetic acid found in aspirin.

  1. Cocaine 

This plant-based drug is used as a recreational drug and for anesthesia. Cocaine is derived from the Coca plant, which is also called Erythroxylon coca. This was derived from the ancient Incas in south America, who used to chew the coca leaves for energy. Cocaine was first confined from the coca leaf by german chemist Friedrich Gaedcke. The purification process has improved over the years as cocaine became an acceptable anaesthetic. 

  1. Caffeine 

Caffeine is used to treat tiredness and migraines. You can find caffeine in tea leaves, coffee beans, kola nuts, cacao pods, and guarana. Several medicinal and daily products incorporate caffeine. In accordance with Chinese legend, emperor Shennong detected it in 3000 BCE when he added tea leaves to boiling water, and the result was revitalising drink. Kola nuts were usually chewed in the west African cultures, which helps to reduce hunger pangs and increase energy levels. Caffeine also relieves migraine symptoms but is generally used for energising properties. 

  1. Morphine, Codeine, and Opium 

They are used for illegal recreation and for pain relief. These drugs are obtained from the Opium Poppy, which is also called Papaver Somniferum. You have to cut open the fleshy seed pod of opium poppy to gather its active ingredients. When dried, this mixture is generally around 16% morphine alkaloid, though some plants are bred to produce up to 26% morphine. Opium was basically thought to ease asthma, stomach problems and poor sight.

  1. Digitalis  

They are used to treat Arrhythmia, digital is acquired from Foxglove, which is also known as Digitalis purpurea. Digoxin or digitalis was determined in 1775 by Scottish doctor William Withering when his dying patient got recovered after treatment from a local gypsy. Withering came to know that the gypsy had used a herbal remedy holding various components, including foxglove, and extracted the energetic ingredients digitalis. This drug is used to slow the heart rate and increases muscle contraction intensity. Only small doses (0.3mg) are required to make it effective.

These are common plant-based drugs that are used in our daily routine life.

plant drugs

Benefits of Plant-based drugs

  • Traditional cell culture methods need labour investment and significant capital. There are notably lower facility and production costs associated with plant-based drugs. It is accessible to scale production to meet requests. Plant-based protein production can also be the most cost-effective procedure to provide patients with the advantage of faster access to new medicines.
  • Plants are the most competent in producing protein on the planet. Plants have a superior ability to comprehend genetic information and produce complex proteins that can be used to make powerful therapeutics.
  • Several cases cost remarkably less to grow plants with the ability to mass-produce pharmaceutical proteins. Plant-based techniques do not require the same costly capital investments as other production procedures. Production and cost advantages of plant-based pharmaceuticals can allow more capital to be invested in the research and development of new therapeutics.
  •  Traditional protein-manufacturing applications are facing a global capacity shortage for biologics production. Traditional procedures cannot produce enough quantities of therapeutic proteins to meet patient population needs. Plants that can contribute as protein-producing facilities can help to reduce this shortage.

Side-effects of some of the plant-based drugs

  1. Opium 
  • They trigger painlessness, relaxation, and euphoria. 
  • This often leads to physical dependence, addiction, and the cycle of abuse. 
  • Irregular breathing can lead to an overdose. Opioid overdose can be deadly.


  1. Cannabis 

Several people report feeling euphoric and giddy at first. 

Then it turns to relaxation and sedation, from which some people complain about drowsiness. 

Many people also face anxiety and paranoia. 

Some of them didn’t feel anything, but few experienced a craving for the drug and depression. 


  1. Kratom 
  • The severe side effects include seizures or hallucinations. 
  • Other than that, you can experience dry mouth, itchiness, constipation, increased urination, and reduced appetite.

kratom drugs

 These are some of the side effects of plant-based drugs that you can experience.


Plant-based drugs are an old practice which is still preserved today. These are widely used and more trusted by the public. There is this ambivalence in this observation that modern pharmaceuticals consist of one or a few molecular species of botanical derivation based on substances initially discovered in plants. There you can see many benefits of providing these Drugs. But there are also side effects that can’t be ignored. So do your research before consuming them.

ALSO READ: Can CBD cause Liver Damage? How and What do doctors say about it?


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