Autumn has arrived and with it so too has the likelihood of getting a cold or the flu. With the launch of Akut (which is made of medicinal herbs) we thought we'd celebrate the arrival of this special season with a short series of blog posts on medicinal plants. Certain plants have been used in traditional medical practices since prehistoric times... Now that's a long time.
Plants have the ability to synthesise hundreds of chemical compounds for functions like defending against insects and diseases, and numerous phytochemical's have been identified with potential or established biological activity that can help in medical practices. We are able to study them and see if we can use these chemical compounds to treat our own ailments.
South African Geranium (roots)
Place of Origin: South Africa
South African Geranium has been used for hundreds of years to treat coughs and respiratory irritations in South Africa. At the start of the 20th Century it was used to treat tuberculosis. While now antibiotics are used to treat TB, extracts from South African Geranium are still used to speed up recovery from bronchitis and symptoms of common colds.
Broad beans (whole plant)
Place of Origin: North America, South-West Asia
Broad beans are a common ingredient in todays world, but would you know that they're been used to successfully treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease for over 40 years. This is because they're rich in a chemical called levodopa which is a chemical building-block that the body converts into dopamine. It replaces the dopamine that is lost in Parkinson's.
Place of Origin: Europe
There is ongoing research into the effectiveness of valerian, but there are several remedies that contain valerian extract to treat sleep problems and to help calm anxiety.
St Johns Wort (whole plant)
Place of Origin: Europe
St John's Wort has been used to treat wounds for over 2000 years. However in todays world, it is mainly used to aid treatment for anxiety and mild depression.
Daffodils and Snowdrops (bulbs)
Place of Origin: Europe & Asia
Drugs based on the chemical Galantamine are used for the treatment of cognitive decline in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and various other memory impairments. Galantamine occurs naturally in the snowdrop and daffodil family.
Illustrations by Aleksandra Stanglewicz exclusively for Sagitta