Anthony Booker

Curry Spice or Miracle Cure? An Ethnobotanical Investigation

2:00-2:30 PM

ABSTRACT: Throughout Europe, herbal medicines, nutraceuticals and functional foods have been growing in popularity and global trade in these commodities is increasing. But some herbs and spices have a history of medical use spanning thousands of years. This talk looks at one of these food-medicines and examines its use by different cultures. To some, it is just one of many ingredients in curry powder, to others it is a wonder spice, capable of treating a wide variety of maladies, from mild digestive complaints to arthritis to cancer.  There is some evidence to suggest that it may have medicinal properties but which active ingredients are responsible remains unclear. To further complicate the picture, different species of plant are used and different methods of preparation. There are many examples of how traditional use of a plant has influenced its modern day use as a herbal medicine or led to the discovery of a new drug – why is it that a spice with so much history of medicinal use is still be regarded by many as just another curry ingredient?

About the Speaker

Tony Booker completed an MSc in Pharmacognosy at The School of Pharmacy, University of London in 2010 and is currently studying for a PhD at UCL School of Pharmacy, supported by a grant from The Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health. Following a career in the pharmaceutical industry, since 1996 he has been a practitioner of Traditional Asian Medicine and is past President of The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. In connection with TCM education, he was Director of MSc studies in Chinese Herbal Medicine at The College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, Reading, and has sat on the accreditation board of the European Herbal and Traditional Practitioners Association.  He is currently a member of The Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC) responsible for giving advice to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority on aspects concerning Chinese Herbal Medicine. He is a guest lecturer at UCL School of Pharmacy and at The Confucius Institute of TCM, London South Bank University. His current research interest is the transformation of traditional Asian medical knowledge into international commodities.

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