Author (Your Name)

Shana Bondi, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Chemistry Dept.


Bradford P. Mundy


The traditional folk medicines of many different cultures have provided modern science with numerous leads to medicinally valuable plants. Only in the last two hundred years, however, has modern science taken advantage of the lessons folklore offers. Modern natural product chemistry began during the late eighteenth century when chemists started isolating, purifying and analyzing compounds found in nature. A young German pharmacist's assistant, Frederich Wilhelm Adam Serturner, is credited with being the first to isolate and characterize alkaloids during the early years of this scientific renaissance of sorts; in 1803, he isolated the active component of opium which he called morphium, now known as morphine. Subsequently, the pure alkaloids strychnine, caffeine, nicotine, atropine, and cocaine were isolated in 1817, 1820, 1828,1833, and 1855, respectively. It was during this period, as well, that the alkaloid quinine was first isolated. The bark of the South American chinchona tree had, for centuries, been used as a treatment for malaria, but it was not until 1820 that the active ingredient was isolated by Frenchmen Pierre-Joseph Pelletier and Joseph-Bienaime Caventou.'


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


Aromatic compounds -- Synthesis, Natural products -- Synthesis, Organic compounds -- Synthesis