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James (Jim) Duke: Ethnobotanist and All Around Smart Guy

We love the ethnobotanist James A. Duke, who is responsible for the unequaled Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database at the USDA, the Green Pharmacy and dozens of other publications that describe in accurate scientific detail the amazing properties of the plant world.

In a recent article, published in the DC area Pathways Magazine, Duke tackles Cuba and reminds us of some important facts, including how the natural compounds in a fresh mint mojito cocktail can help ward off the big D (dementia), ditto with saffron, which is also effective with depression,  as well as many other medicinal properties of the Cuban diet.  In fact, Duke details so many medicinal attributes of common Cuban foodstuffs, it’s amazing anyone gets sick.

We suspect that big farma does not want this stuff to catch on in the USA, land of pills and surgery (compare Aricept and a mojito anyone?)  Imagine instead of statin drugs worth tens of billions to the drug companies, we all enjoyed low-cost food and herbs packed with what we need (not to mention greatly reduced side effects)?  Imagine saner policies where reliance on pharmaceuticals throughout the food chain decreases and overall health increases?  You get the point.


If you haven’t read Duke’s books, or checked out his work online, go for it.  While not all of his work is designed for ordinary folks (non-scientists), they are all stellar and packed with information that hopefully will be spread far and wide.  At 83, he’s got a great perspective, not to mention holds his own in song.