Glass specimen jar, containing seeds (cajanus bicolor), Bengal, India, 1866
Cajanus bicolor (shown in the centre) is an important food stuff. It originates in India and is commonly known as ‘pigeon pea’. It is cultivated in Africa and India. Cajanus bicolor is an important source of protein. The seeds and sometimes the roots are eaten as vegetables. This specimen was collected from Bengal, India. Henry Wellcome considered all aspects of human health and illnesses worthy of collection. This included food and diet. Plant specimens with medical uses make up a large part of Wellcome’s collection. Wellcome was a pharmaceutical manufacturer. He often instructed his collectors to look for local remedies to be studied for their potential use in new products. This process is now known as ‘bio-prospecting’. The seeds are shown with two medicinal plants: panicled acacia (A669220) and Tanner cassia pods (A669388).
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Glossary: traditional medicine
Used in the West for sets of health beliefs and practices that developed within the culture of a particular ethnic or geographic group of people, distinct from modern Western medicine. Commonly includes herbal and homeopathic remedies, religious or spiritual ritual, and an holistic approach to patients.
Individual units, segments, or small quantities taken as evidence of the quality or character of the entire group or lot