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Lecture 2 – it is not money that makes the world go round
It is Natural Products!
You should be thinking about Natural Products when:
passing Starbucks
eating a curry
chewing a sweet
looking at an old Dutch painting
visiting Venice
studying the colonisation of North America
considering why English is spoken widely in India and is the language
of business throughout much of the world
considering why the Dutch settled in South Africa
thinking about why the UK, the Netherlands, Porugal and Spain had
colonies and territories throughout the world
drinking tea from a china cup
eating chocolate
considering the chaos in 19th century China
judging the illegal drug industry in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries
drinking a Coke
Studying at Yale
wondering why Bayer at one time sold heroin as an ordinary medicine
over the counter
thinking about the spread of Islam why the Ottoman empire covered
the areas it did
To show that trade in
commodities that contain
Natural Products have
been very important in
shaping world history
 spices
 tea
 coffee
 opium
 coca
 quinine
To suggest that you
investigate how many large
industries are still based on
human desires to use Natural
pharmaceutical products
illegal drugs
vegetables and fruit
Spices - The Greeks and Romans
50,000 BC Attractive flavours?
2300 BC In one of the earliest written records, the Assyrians tell of their gods drinking
sesame seed wine before they created the earth.
1920 BC Biblical history tells of Joseph (he of the coat of many colours) being sold to
a spice caravan by his brothers.
1520 BC The book of Exodus in the Bible tells of Children of Israel fleeing Egypt,
taking with them the "principal spices"
1453 BC Greeks begin Olympic Games at which victors were awarded laurel (bay
leaf) wreaths.
992 BC
Queen of Sheba visits Solomon with "camels that bear spices" as her
principal gift.
80 BC
Alexandria, Egypt becomes greatest spice trading port of Eastern
Mediterranean, with one of its entrances known as "Pepper Gate."
50 BC
Romans bring mustard seed to England.
65 AD
Funeral rites for Nero's wife, Poppaca, in Rome consumes year's supply of
Probable date of oldest cookbook by Apicius; recipes richly spiced.
Spice - The Arabic and Islamic Traders
The Rise of Venice
Mohammed weds wealthy spice-trading widow; his followers combine
missionary work with spice-trading in East and build first spice monopoly.
Venice rising as commercial power - much of it based on spicesbeginning to bring Europe out of the Dark Ages.
Guild of Pepperers founded in London; France forms Corporation of
Spicers. Pepperers to become Guild of Grossers in 14th Century.
Marco Polo returns from China; tells where spices grow and awakens
western world's interest in trading direct with the Orient.
Portuguese Prince Henry establishes his navigation college to spur
World-wide spice quest.
Spice - The Portuguese and Spanish Era
Columbus sails to seek more direct passage to Orient's spice riches, the
start of European Age of Exploration.
Columbus discovers allspice in West Indies.
Columbus' physician, Chanea, describes Mexican capsicums (red
Vasco de Gama reaches Calicut, India, the spice center; pepper prices fall
in Europe.
Portuguese discover Sri Lanka (Ceylon), cinnamon source.
Albuquerque seizes Malacca on Malay Peninsula, one of the most
important spice ports.
Magellan sails westward for Spain looking for new spice lands;
surviving ship returns with enough spices to finance entire expedition.
Charles V of Spain cedes all rights Spain had claimed in Spice Islands to
Portugal for 350,000 ducats.
Garcia da Orta writes "Colloquies on Drugs and Simples of India" the first
Spice – the Dutch and English Expansion
Sir Francis Drake returns to London from round-the-world voyage that
included visit to Spice Islands.
West Indies ship arrives in Europe with first cargo of Jamaica ginger- first
oriental spice to be grown successfully in New World.
Van Neck establishes first Dutch trading posts in Banda, Amboina and
Ternate, the "Spice Islands."
British East India Company founded.
Record 116,000 pounds of cloves reach England in one shipment.
Dutch seize Malacca and control of most spice production in the East.
Elihu Yale reaches India and starts spice business, which eventually
provides the fortune with which he founded Yale University.
Europe first reads "Arabian Nights" and Sinbad's spice quest.
Large amounts of cloves and nutmegs burned at Amsterdam to keep up
Governor Poivre of Mauritius steals cloves and nutmeg seeds from Dutch
and starts new growing areas on his island, thus affecting the first breech
in Holland's East Indies monopoly.
The English found Penang, later to become major eastern pepper port.
Following on from spices – the new high value Natural Product
Camellia sinensis is indigenous to China and parts of India. It is a perennial bush that
grows up to 10 m in the wild but is clipped in plantations to be manageable
The chemicals:
Xanthophyll pigments break down to give volatile terpenoid compounds which
smell and taste pleasant
1-4% caffeine
0.05% theophylline and theobromine
Far East - a long history of tea drinking in China and the Far East
Europe began to drink tea in the 17th century. Trading with the Far East began
to expand after the Portuguese, then Dutch and finally the British developed
their spice businesses. The British presence in India and Sri Lanka was
important in developing their tea industries.
The only significant producer of tea at that time was China. The 19th century
link to opium
Following on from tea – the next high value Natural Product
Coffea arabica is a native of Ethiopia and it was grown in a few countries
bordering the Red Sea and traded throughout the Arab world. The coffee plant is
a perennial bush and the beans are harvested annually and processed
(including roasting) before being ground to make coffee.
The main flavours are produced during the roasting process when
many chemicals are broken down and released from the storage
bodies in the cell. The oils and tannins give odour and flavour.
Caffeine, theobromine, theophylline
Coffee drinking has been known in the Middle East and further east
from about 800 BC but it only became known in parts of Europe in
the 16th century. By the 18th century the "colonial" traders (the
same lot who were trading spices and tea - largely Portuguese,
Dutch and UK) had taken seeds to other continents and tried to
establish production. Thus the Portuguese established plantations
in South America, the Dutch in the East Indies (Java .. now
Coffee is the second most valuable legally traded commodity after oil
25 million people worldwide gain their living from coffee
Coffee is the biggest legally imported food import in the USA
2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day - 20% in the USA
The plant A small shrub, Erythroxylum, is native to the Andes regions
(Columbia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador). T. coca is Bolivian Coca and T.
truxillense Peruvian Coca. The leaves of the plant are harvested up to 3
times a year.
The chemicals
The coca leaf contains 0.7-2.5% alkaloids. Cocaine is the chemical
produced when one of the alkaloids, tropacocaine, is broken down.
Its role in ancient S American cultures - restricted to relatively few
people and used to help cope with fatigue and life at high altitudes.
After the Spanish conquests, it was used more widely in order to get
more out of slaves and workers in the metal mines.
1855 German chemists produced the much more concentrated and
powerful cocaine from the coca leaves and advocated its use as an
Late 19th Century cocaine preparations were all over the place,
including: Tonic wines, nose powders, suppositories, cigarettes, and of
One of the most influential drinks that came from human
interest in coca was Coco Cola. This was developed by a
US pharmacist Dr John Pemberton. His first product was
a rip-off a well known product in Europe, Dr Mariani's
tonic wine (which was made by steeping coca leaves in
red wine). However, when controls were being
considered for alcoholic products in Atlanta, Dr
Pemberton devised a non-alcoholic version - the birth of
Coca Cola. In 1903 Coca Cola replaced coca extract with
another natural product caffeine.
About 25% of the coca leaves that are harvested are
consumed locally as an antifatigue agent by the workers.
When the leaf is chewed the cocaine (the main alkaloid
that is responsible for the main physiological effect) is
released slowly into the blood. Each user may consume
up to 50g leaf per day and that could give 350 mg
cocaine to the user. Only about 1-2% of the coca grown
The plant
Papaver somniferum is an annual that is easily grown in many parts of the
The chemicals
The crude preparation is air-dried sap from poppy capsules. The main
physiologically active ingredients are alkaloids. The capsule contains 0.5%
alkaloids but the dried opium latex can have up to 25%. At least 40 individual
alkaloids are found in the opium but only 6 major ones.
morphine 4-21%
codeine 0.8-2.5%
thebaine 4-8&.
The culture and trade
Known in Europe at least 4000 years ago and was noted by ancient Greek
and Roman writers. Arab traders took to it to China in 7-8th century but there
is evidence that they knew and used the plant before that time.
1803, the German pharmacist F. W. Serturner isolated the principal alkaloid
which he named morphium after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. The
invention of the syringe and the discovery of other alkaloids of opium soon
followed: codeine in 1832 and papaverine in 1848.
By the 1850s, the medicinal use was common in Europe. In the USA, opium
preparations became widely available in the 19th C. Morphine was used
extensively as a painkiller for wounded soldiers in the Civil War. The inevitable
opium addiction was called “the army disease” or “soldier’s disease.” These
abuse problems prompted a search for potent, but nonaddictive, painkillers.
In the 1870s, an acetyled version of morphine, supposedly nonaddictive was
produced. Bayer was the first to produce it in large quantities under the brand
The plant
Quinine is extracted from the bark of "the fever bark tree" (Cinchona spp.)
which is native to north west South America.
The chemical
Quinine is an alkaloid which occurs along with a number of other alkaloids (515% of the bark depending on cultivar). Quinine is typically 50-75% of the total
of the four main alkaloids.
The culture and trade
The bark had been used for centuries by local people to treat fevers.
1630 - Jesuits learned of this useful plant remedy.
1637 - in Lima (now Peru), the wife of Viceregal, 4th Count Cinchon, suffers
from malaria. In desperation a “native” remedy drived from the bark of the tree
is used. She recovers. In her honour the tree family is named Cinchona.
1650s “Jesuit’s bark” now used by the rich in Europe. Jesuits controlled the
production back in S America. But they were into conservation - for every tree
felled one was planted.
Dislike of Jesuits causes many Protestants to reject “the powder of the devil”.
One such person was Oliver Cromwell who rejected this source of a helpful
Annual sales (billion $)
Illegal drugs
Traded v alue