Medicinal Value - Conservation of Wildlife
About 40% of all drugs used throughout the world have active ingredients extracted from plants and animals. The world-wide annual sales of drugs based on naturally derived chemicals amount to at least $40 billion. Asprin, which is probably the world's most widely used drug was developed according to a chemical "blueprint" supplied by a compound extracted from the leaves of tropical willow trees. Penicillin is produced by a fungus and certain species of bacteria produce other life saving antibiotics such as tetracycline and streptomycin. Thanks to those antibiotics and more than 1000 other drugs, diseases like typhoid fever, scarlet fever, bubonic plague, diptheria, syphilis and gonorrhoea can be treated more effectively.
Certain flowering plants also produce medicinal compounds. For example quinine is used to treat Malaria (from the cinchona tree); digitalis is used to treat chronic heart trouble (from the foxglove plant); and morphine and cocaine are used to reduce pain (from the opium poppy plant and the coca shrub respectively). Drugs that have been extracted from plants are used to treat leukemia, several forms of tumors, cancer, various heart ailments, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Therefore, the discovery of other life saving drugs depends on the survival of microorganisms, plants and animals that some persons might consider to be insignificant. Furthermore, fewer than 5,000 of the earth's 2,20,400 species of flowering plants have been analysed by scientists for the presence of valuable drugs.