Course description

Plants have always played a key role in the history of life on Earth and have served as medicinal agents in all societies since prehistoric times. Medical Ethnobotany is the study of medicinal plants used by a group of people. Medicinal plants are either critical constituents of many modem drugs or provide templates for synthetic analogous molecules. In this course we will introduce and be acquainted with past and current plant-based natural remedies used across the globe, exploring their efficacy and mode of actions. We will analyze and compare how plants are employed in the different continents to heal (or alleviate) a plethora of pathological conditions, and explore how they affect our bodies (which organic system is affected, i.e., gastro-intestinal, central nervous or respiratory system). The course is designed for students with an interest in the natural world and in traditional medicine.

Outcome 1: Describe the role of plants in human health and in social contexts in the past and the present.

Outcome 2: Identify and define the most commonly used medicinal plants across the continents and their bioactive compounds.

Outcome 3: Discuss the processes involved in the isolation of active bio compounds from plants.

Outcome 4: Compare how medicinal plants are used in various cultures, which organ(s) they affect in the human body, how efficacy is measured, and explain in general terms their modes of action.

Outcome 5: Integrate concepts from ethnobotany, biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and conservation.

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Previously offered classes

Winter 2023: Online course

Giulia Friso
Giulia Friso
Senior research associate and senior lecturer of plant biology, Cornell University
Section ID:PLBIO 2100 001-LEC
Session:3-week Winter session
Class dates:January 3-20, 2023
Final exam/project due:Friday January 20, 11:59 PM (see Final exams)
Time / room:
Mode of instruction:Online (async)
Grade:Graded (no audit)
Instructor:Friso, G. (gf32)
Max. enroll:15
To enroll:Enrollment for this class is closed.

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This course is open to all registrants, including undergraduates and precollege students.