Modern medicine now tends to use the active ingredients of plants rather than the whole plants. The phytochemicals may be synthesized, compounded or otherwise transformed to make pharmaceuticals . Examples of such derivatives include digoxin, from digitalis ; capsaicine , from chili ; and aspirin , which is chemically related to the salicylic acid found in white willow . The opium poppy continues to be a major industrial source of opiates, including morphine . Few traditional remedies, however, have translated into modern drugs, although there is continuing research into the efficacy and possible adaptation of traditional herbal treatments.
Herbal remedies date back to a burial site some 60,000 years ago when a Neanderthal man was found with plant pollen and eight other plants placed around the dead man. Seven of the eight plants are still used in the herbal world today. All cultures are aware of the benefits of herbs but the one distinct culture to lend a vast amount of herbal pharmacopoeia to the 20th Century are the Native Americans. Currently, about one-fourth of all prescription drugs sold in America today contain at least one ingredient from plant material.