Monday, July 8, 2013
Meet Dr. Jim Duke
This is Dr. Jim Duke, I first met him when I was in my late 20's. He asked for people who worked in herb shops to write to him about how African Americans were using herbs so that he could write an article for Black History Month. I wrote to him and met him two years later and he remembered my letter and its contents. That is just a small story of how comprehensive his memory and knowledge is. Fast forward another decade and I was lucky enough to travel with him not once but three times to the Peruvian Amazon Rain Forest.
Dr. Duke is an ethno- botanist, so he studies how indigenous cultures utilize the plants around them in a capacity for food, lodging, canoes, ceremony, and of course medicine.
He has retired from the USDA where he fought hard during his years to "give herbs a fair shake". To include herbs in the studies and not just pharmaceuticals and also to evaluate studies that included herbs to insure they were fairly done. His database of active medicinal constituents of plants is so valued the USDA still hosts it. In addition to all this, he sings a mean streak too. About herbs of course! Here he is singing about Ginseng, a common aphrodisiac in China, the chorus goes: "Makes an older man cock sure and a younger man endure, Makes an older woman younger and a younger woman hunger, Ginseng, Seng Gin......"
Dr. Duke's a joy to be around and if you are looking to add another herbal to your bookshelf his Green Pharmacy book is one of my favorites.