Old grandmothers, herbalists and nature lovers of all ages have long known that green medicine grows everywhere, as we’ve posted about here on how to grow 7 healing herbs at home. Even many decorative garden plants like aloe vera have valuable healing properties.
But the Bioxplore project, funded by the European Union to the tune of Euros 2 million, has a goal with these plants that reaches much farther than home remedies. The plants’ active ingredients are isolated and tested in laboratories against pests like bacteria, fungi and worms. The ultimate aim is to develop new drugs, health supplements and cosmetics, exploiting the wild herbs’ medicinal properties. BioXplore hopes to develop local job opportunities and stimulate scientific, business and cultural exchanges between partner countries, based on these natural medicines and cosmetics.
The partners are are Israel’s Hadassah College, the Biodiversity and Environmental Research Center in the Palestinian Authority, the Leitat Technology Center in Spain and the Hellenic Regional Development Center in Greece. Rutgers University and North Carolina University are associates in the project as well.
Field researchers in Israel, Greece, and Spain have been actively gathering plant specimens since November 2011. In Israel, eighteen students from Hadassah College’s Biotechnology Department conduct regular hikes on plant-collecting trips. They have walked the ground from the northern Negev to the Judean Hills, the Hula Valley and Mount Hermon – and many points in between.
President of the Israeli Herbalists Association, Dr. Mina Faran, wryly says, “The researchers need strong legs.”
The plan is to collect between 700 to 800 samples of native Israeli species.
Dr. Faran makes a number of skin creams based on medicinal plants (and indeed, this writer learned to make several kinds of creams in courses Dr. Faran teaches). She gives an example of a cream for atopic dermatitis based on purslane. Other products on their way to development and marketing might treat other major illnesses.
Among antibacterial herbs under research are:
1. The Palestine Oak
2. The Terebinth
3. The Mediterranean Stinkbush
4. Chamomile, which grows wild everywhere in the spring
All these plants have been known for centuries as wild edibles and medicine. Some destroy bacteria, others work against fungus, others are anti-inflammatory and soothing, and yet others boost the immune system. New plants are added often to BioXplore’s list.
It seems that Israel’s climate encourages medicinal plants to produce strong medicine.
“The aridity of Israel’s climate allows the essential oils to develop inside the plants,” Faran explains.
Essential oils are the most medicinal part of any herb.
The medicine in plants is based on the mysterious interaction of its own chemicals. Isolating a few of a plant’s properties may exploit some of its healing potential, but to draw out the best, the all of plants’ medicinal parts should be used. Hopefully, when it comes to manufacturing natural medicines, Bioxplore’s researchers will remember this.
More from Green Prophet on green medicine:
- Natural Holy Land Healing Research
- Ancient Beduin Natural Cosmetics
- Pakistani Tea Extract May Help Heal Breast Cancer