Ancient texts of interest to modern medical researchers

A new report from the Mayo Clinic, reported by Science Daily, shows how researchers at the Clinic used data-mining techniques to discover new cures from ancient texts. The reports cites the anti-bacterial properties of the Atun tree as discussed by Dutch herbalist Georg Eberhard Rumpf in his mid-17th century work Ambonese Herbal.

Researchers at the Clinic plan to investigate using the same techniques to data-mine other historical texts.

"Natural products are invaluable sources of healing agents -- consider, for example, that aspirin derived originally from willow bark, and the molecular basis of the anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent TaxolTM was derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. So it's not so far-fetched to think that the contributions of an ancient text and insights from traditional medicine really may impact modern public health," explains Brent Bauer, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program.