Medicine Matters – July Talks

Medicine Matters

From left: Catharanthus roseus, compounds from this plant are used to treat leukemia | Dr Henry Oakeley | Wife of an apothecary with the tools and apparatus of her trade. © Wellcome Images.

Exploring the past, present and uncertain future of plant medicine

To complement the new Garden of Medicinal Plants, a series of talks entitled ‘Medicine Matters’ will be held in the Gallery, 6-8pm every Tuesday in July with access to the Garden until 8.30pm. The talks will explore the uses of medicinal plants in the past, in the present and their uncertain future in Western medicine and feature a range of speakers from founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies, Romy Fraser to Dr Henry Oakeley, Garden Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians.

Tickets – £15 including a glass of wine and a chance to visit the Garden ‘after hours’.

Book online or telephone 020 7349 6471

Full programme of talks:

Romy FraserTuesday 1 July – The success story of a medicinal entrepreneur

Romy Fraser will be sharing her stories with an illustrated talk about the creation of Neal’s Yard Remedies and her 25 years’ developing a successful business within the changing world of herbal medicine. She will describe the evolution of Trill Farm, with the food and fragrances from the hedgerows and herb gardens of this, her new educational venture located in the Devon countryside.


Henry OakeleyTuesday 8 July – Medicines in Apothecary Jars

English Delftware apothecary jars are the familiar tin-glazed jars with elaborate blue cartouches indicating their contents – mostly plant based mixtures compounded according to the requirements of the Royal College of Physicians’ Pharmacopoeia Londinensis of 1618.  In his lecture, Dr Henry Oakeley (Garden Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians) will describe the history and uses of these jars’ bizarre and fantastical ingredients, tracing the origins of these medicines to 2000 years ago and explaining why our ancestors thought they worked.

Georgia SyllignakiTuesday 15 July – Phytotherapeutical preparations in a modern day pharmacy

Health is one of the most important aspects of human life. The service of promoting health has evolved throughout the centuries along with the evolution of mankind, and the plant world has provided fundamental means during this process. Although modern day drugs and pharmaceutical studies focus mainly on synthetic or semi-synthetic substances, there are still a lot of benefits to be gained from rational Phytotherapy. Georgia Syllignaki will present some examples of Plant pharmaceutical preparations that are nowadays dispensed in a Greek Pharmacy; she believes that in this context, Phytotherapy will continue to have an important place in the present and future of Health services.

Tuesday 22 July – Steam engines, overhead projectors, film cameras…and medicines from plants

Flowering plants have been the source of medicines for most human societies for generations and the chemicals that they contain are still the source of many important drugs today. However it has been proposed that their current role is more of historical interest than as a source of novel therapeutic materials.  Professor Peter Houghton of King’s College London will examine the past and present use of flowering plant constituents in Western medicine before discussing current perceptions and prospects for flowering plants as providers of medicines by established and novel ways.

C0017988 Ross MacFarlaneTuesday 29 July – Medicine, marvels and mesmerists

Roll up, roll up… from book wheels to flying machines, Georgian Quacks to Victorian medicine shows, this talk will guide your way through some of the dreamers, opportunists and charlatans whose magical medicines and outlandish schemes are contained within the collections of the Wellcome Library. Ross MacFarlane is Research Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Library.

New Garden of Medicinal Plants takes shape – opened April 2014
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