Galanthus nivalis L. Amaryllidaceae Snowdrop. Hardy, bulbous herb. Distribution: Europe. A chemical, galantamine, is sourced principally from the Caucasian snowdrop, Galanthus woronowii but is present in our ‘English’ snowdrop and related genera. It is a competitive, reversible, acetylcholinesterase inhibitor so increases brain acetylcholine, a chemical of great importance in cerebral function. As such it has been recommended for ameliorating the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, but not for mild cognitive impairment as in US clinical trials there was an increased mortality. Johnson (Gerard, 1633) calls it the bulbous violet, Viola theophrasti

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Leucoium or snow drops and says there is no mention of it by ancient writers and that it has no medicinal use. Fuchs (1542) calls it Leucoium theophrasti, known to Pliny, and Viola alba, and concurs that it is of no use. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.


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    Credit: Dr Henry Oakeley

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