Charms and harms of natural medicines – Insights from leading NZ researchers

19 July 2013

What do natural medicines have to offer?  And what do we need to be aware of? The University of Auckland Winter Lectures tackles these questions, stimulating discussion across a variety of topics presented by leading NZ researchers.

The opening lecture, one of six, will be delivered by internationally renowned scientist and 2012 Rutherford Medal winner, Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble on Tuesday 23 July.  Her lecture Nature’s medicine chest: opportunities for drug discovery showcases research on the synthesis of bioactive natural products as novel anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral agents.

Series organiser and speaker Associate Professor Jo Barnes, from the School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, says “Lectures cover the spectrum of interest in natural products in healthcare: from nature’s molecular creativity and modern drug discovery from natural resources, to the clinical efficacy and safety of herbal medicines and other natural health products.”

While population-based data on the use of natural health products are not available in New Zealand, the National Health Survey 2006-07 found 18% of New Zealand adults consult with natural health practitioners, including medical herbalists, naturopaths, homoeopaths, acupuncturists, and traditional Maori healers.

“There have been recent calls among opinion leaders for paradigm shifts in natural-product drug discovery to develop an approach that involves evidence-based traditional medicines, and in strategies to improve the quality, safety and efficacy of herbal and other complementary medicines,” says Jo.

Speakers are internationally known in their respective fields, and come from four Schools (Chemical Sciences; Medicine; Pharmacy; Population Health) representing two faculties (Science; Medical and Health Sciences) within The University of Auckland.

For full details on all six lectures please visit

Event: Winter Lectures at The University of Auckland on Charms and harms of natural medicines

Dates: Six successive Tuesdays from 23 July to 27 August

Time: 1pm-2pm

Venue: Maidment Theatre, 8 Alfred Street, City

Admission: Free