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March 14, 1931


JAMA. 1931;96(11):863-864. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02720370041013

The popularity of endocrine, vitamin and diverse synthetic medicinal products in recent years has tended to obscure the significance of active constituents derived from the plant kingdom. The greater number of dependable and useful substances of natural origin in the therapeutic armamentarium may be forgotten because of the emphasis placed on synthetic products offered by the chemical industry. If it had not been for leads obtained from natural products, the synthetic therapeutic products might not have come into existence. Frequently the standard by which the usefulness of a synthetic product is determined depends on a natural product. For instance, the activity and suitability of synthetic products intended for local anesthesia is determined by comparison with cocaine, the alkaloid of coca leaves, a natural local anesthetic, which with its derivatives is not yet surpassed in general usefulness and efficiency by any synthetic product.

The subordination of interest in natural products is

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