modern medicine

Joseph A. Marcus / www.wildflower.org

Modern medicine was born out of folk medicine. Today, though, modern medicine feels pretty distant from whatever folk traditions have stuck around, and it's easy to assume they don't have much in common. Travis Lux tells us about a collaborative study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center investigating the healing potential of native Louisiana plants.


Peter Gallagher

The Mamou, sometimes called the Coral Bean, is a large shrub that grows here in Louisiana. Maybe you’ve seen one: it produces bright, scarlet flowers and distinctive bean pods.

“When the bean pod splits open,” says botanist Larry Allain, “the beans are brilliant red. And the Indians would drill ‘em and use ‘em as jewelry. But the Cajuns used them to make cough medicine and blood thinner.”