How Plants have Influenced the World

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1. The Opium Poppy:
Although the poppy is a simple flower, it has had both a good and a bad influence on the world:
Anaesthetising:
The extraction of Morphine, one of the opiate alkaloids found naturally in opium, was revolutionary in the medical world. Even though local anaesthesia is available to us by a completely different plant, the Coca, general anaesthesia became possible with the Opium poppy. It allowed patients to be knocked out completely for operations they were having, which gave doctors the opportunity to make great advances in the surgical field.

Wars:
In the 19th century, British India was producing mass amounts of opium, to feed China’s large demands for the product. However when the Chinese government realised how harmful it was if you were addicted, they banned it, effectively cutting off one of Britain’s main income sources, which led to two wars, fought between 1839-1842 and 1856-1860.

The Pharmaceutical Industry:
Obviously the opium from poppies has been of great use to pharmaceutical companies. They have been able make millions from painkillers like Morphine, which is extracted from opium. Morphine was discovered to be far more superior that Aspirin. The only downside was that Morphine was highly addictive.

Addiction:
The Opium poppy has introduced society to one of the most dangerous and copious issues in the modern world: drug addiction. Before the drug was known to be so powerful and addictive, it was sold as a painkiller for uncontrolled use.

2. Quinine
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites, which is spread by the bite of infected mosquitos. People catch malaria when the parasite enters the blood. Many people are killed by this infection every year. People usually get malaria from the Anopheles or Culex mosquitos
Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid found in the bark of the cinchona tree. It has anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, but is probably most well-known

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