Pop A Plant!
This week, The Weekly Beet reports from the Chelsea Physic Garden, one of the most infamous, secret gardens in the world. Mary Kent goes pharmaceutical gardening, revealing the important role that medicinal plants play in the big business of drug companies.
With nearly half of all Americans taking at least one prescription drug, there certainly seems to be a pill popping epidemic! Everyone knows that pharmaceuticals are filled with man-made chemicals, but how many of you know that many of them are synthetically derived from Mother Nature? Yep, that's right! Science is pretty sneaky at isolating the same compounds found in plants to make low cost drugs. Take Aspirin, for example, whose basis comes from salicin made in the leaves and the bark of the willow tree, and then there's Digoxin, a cardiac drug that regulates heart rhythm, which comes from the gorgeous foxglove or Digitalis. Synthetically reproducing Mother Nature may be inexpensive, but it will always come at a "side-effect" cost. Aspirin can cause ulcers and stomach irritation, while Digoxin can cause nausea or yellowing of the vision. On the flip side, 'unrefined' plants in their most natural state generally do not cost the body any side effect at all. Naturally, that's what we call unBEETable!
We went digging for the truth about the powers of medicinal plants and found the Chelsea Physic Garden. From Valeriana Officinalis to Avena Sativa, this garden is just oozing with hundreds of healing plants and herbs! Established as the Apothecaries Garden in 1673 to train apprentices in identifying plants, it is now home to over 5000 plant and herbal species. Due to the heightened interest in natural medicine, the garden has become an extremely valuable resource to scientists and gardeners all over the world.
Once inside Mother Nature's medicinal museum, one truly understands that nature lies at the core of conventional medicine and the science of healing. There are four plant 'exhibits' to be seen: The Pharmaceutical Garden, The Garden of World Medicine, The Perfumery and Aromatherapy borders, and The Vegetable plot. By far, the most exciting part is The Pharmaceutical Garden. Beds containing medicinal plants used as the basis of pharmaceutical drugs are plotted according to the medical fields of Oncology, ENT, Dermatology, Cardiology, Anaesthesia, Neurology/Rheumatology, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Parasitology, and Gastroenterology. It can be a pretty humbling experience to see where those little white, pain-relieving pills truly come from!
It's time to bow down to Mother Nature for her ability to heal! Don't miss a Beet. Stay tuned for next week.
PS. Mary Kent is wearing jeans by Edun.
PPS. Check out Kristy Amy, founder of OnMark Solutions at Ladies Who Launch.
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