Bitter Roots: The Search For Healing Plants In Africa by Abena Dove Osseo-asareBitter Roots: The Search For Healing Plants In Africa by Abena Dove Osseo-asare

Bitter Roots: The Search For Healing Plants In Africa

byAbena Dove Osseo-asare

Paperback | January 17, 2014

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For over a century, plant specialists worldwide have sought to transform healing plants in African countries into pharmaceuticals. And for equally as long, conflicts over these medicinal plants have endured, from stolen recipes and toxic tonics to unfulfilled promises of laboratory equipment and usurped personal patents. In Bitter Roots, Abena Dove Osseo-Asare draws on publicly available records and extensive interviews with scientists and healers in Ghana, Madagascar, and South Africa to interpret how African scientists and healers, rural communities, and drug companies—including Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Unilever—have sought since the 1880s to develop drugs from Africa’s medicinal plants.
Osseo-Asare recalls the efforts to transform six plants into pharmaceuticals: rosy periwinkle, Asiatic pennywort, grains of paradise, Strophanthus, Cryptolepis, and Hoodia. Through the stories of each plant, she shows that herbal medicine and pharmaceutical chemistry have simultaneous and overlapping histories that cross geographic boundaries. At the same time, Osseo-Asare sheds new light on how various interests have tried to manage the rights to these healing plants and probes the challenges associated with assigning ownership to plants and their biochemical components.   
A fascinating examination of the history of medicine in colonial and postcolonial Africa, Bitter Roots will be indispensable for scholars of Africa; historians interested in medicine, biochemistry, and society; and policy makers concerned with drug access and patent rights.
Abena Dove Osseo-Asare is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.
Title:Bitter Roots: The Search For Healing Plants In AfricaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:January 17, 2014Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022608602X

ISBN - 13:9780226086026


Table of Contents

Introduction: From Plants to Pharmaceuticals

1. Take Madagascar Periwinkle for Leukemia and Pennywort for Leprosy
2. Take Grains of Paradise for Love
3. Take Arrow Poisons for the Heart
4. Take Bitter Roots for Malaria
5. Take Kalahari Hoodia for Hunger

Conclusion: Toward Bioprosperity
Persons Consulted

Editorial Reviews

“By choosing to investigate colonial and postcolonial science through scientific work with plant medicines, Abena Dove Osseo-Asare deepens our understanding of the power relations not only between African and European or American scientists but also between healers and these indigenous and foreign scientists. Her detailed account of transnational scientific collaborations will be a lasting contribution to the field of science studies.”