Nature’s Pharmacy

How ethnobotany blends past and future medicine

<em>Castanea sativa</em> Miller samples collected by Cassandra Quave, now at the Emory University Herbarium (via SERNEC)
Castanea sativa Miller samples collected by Cassandra Quave, now at the Emory University Herbarium (via SERNEC)

Cassandra Quave, an ethnobotanist at Emory University, searches for plants that may be used to treat life-threatening illnesses. Her lab has discovered compounds—found in chestnuts, blackberries, and a host of other plants—that can help treat antimicrobial resistance by stopping bacteria from communicating with each other, adhering to our tissues, or producing toxins. In her new memoir, The Plant Hunter, Quave discusses how a childhood staph infection and its lifelong complications motivated her deeply personal fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In her quest for new treatments, she has explored the rainforests of the Amazon, the mountains of Italy, Albania, and Kosovo, and the swamps of Florida. Quave joins us on the podcast to talk about how she discovered why and how plant-based folk medicines work.

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Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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