The Google doodle celebrates Percy Julian on Friday, April 11, 2014. 

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899, Montgomery, Al. – April 19, 1975, Waukegan, Illinois) was a U.S. research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants.[1]He was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine, and a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones, steroidsprogesterone, and testosterone, from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work would lay the foundation for the steroid drug industry’s production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills.[2][3][4][5]

He later started his own company to synthesize steroid intermediates from the Mexican wild yam. His work helped greatly reduce the cost of steroid intermediates to large multinational pharmaceutical companies, helping to significantly expand the use of several important drugs.[6][7]

During his lifetime he received more than 130 chemical patents. Julian was one of the first African-Americans to receive a doctorate in chemistry. He was the first African-American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and the second African-American scientist inducted from any field.[6]


Herb of the Week-Horse Chestnut (Buckeye)

Common names

Horse Chestnut

The tree commonly known as the horse chestnut is originally native to regions in northern India, it also grows wild in the Caucasus and in areas of northern Greece, however - the tree has been cultivated throughout Europe for a long time now. The horse chestnut also has relative species from the same genus, growing in the United States - these include the California buckeye - A. californica and Ohio buckeye tree - A. glabra. Horse chestnut seeds are toxic for humans. Herbalist in Europe use the leaves and bark of the horse chestnut tree, as well as a standardized extract of the seed, as herbal medication for various disorders.

Parts used

Seeds, leaves, bark.


Horse chestnut herbal remedies are utilized in traditional folk medicine, for the treatment of diarrhea and other disorders of the digestive system caused by infective agents. In fact, herbal teas made from the horse chestnut are traditionally used all over the world for the treatment of many different conditions, which includes disorders such as arthritis and also to treat rheumatic pains and coughs. Topical ointments are also prepared from the herb, and the tea itself is often applied directly on to the skin as a treatment for some kinds of sores and rashes affecting a person. Sunscreens manufactured in the continent of Europe often have a chemical component of the bark-called aesculin, as a vital ingredient, however, at this time, this effective phyto medicine is rarely used for any topical applications. The horse chestnut extract is often standardized and this form of the herbal remedy is considered to be an extremely valuable aid in the treatment of disorders such as varicose veins in different individuals. The presence of this extract inhibits the action of the enzyme hyaluronidase in the body and decreases the permeability of the veins and as a result venous fragility is lowered. The flow of blood in the blood vessels and the muscular tone of the veins are also beneficially improved by the horse chestnut herb. The ability of the herbal remedies made from the horse chestnut to reduce cases of eczema was observed from the results of various scientific studies - which included a randomized double-blind and placebo-controlled stage - in this topical role, the horse chestnut is a wonderful herb for the treatment of such external skin conditions. At the same time, another clinical study compared the effects of the horse chestnut extract to those induced by compression stockings and to the placebo use during a trial treatment for varicose veins in groups of patients. Edema in the lower legs was significantly reduced by both the herbal medicine and the stockings significantly when the results were compared to the placebo effect. The horse chestnut herbal extract is beneficial in treating feelings of physical tiredness and heaviness in the body, it is also very effective against all types of physical pain, and rapidly alleviates swelling in the legs, when such results are compared to the effects induced by a placebo. The anti-inflammatory effects of the horse chestnut extract have also been reported to be beneficial on patients and the horse chestnut may indeed possess very significant anti-inflammatory properties.

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