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Plants Make a Difference in Promoting Health

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Plants and Health

In an effort to address the current economy, healthcare crisis, and improve life for all, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is working hard to re-educate the public on how plants make a difference in supporting personal and global health.

Recent research has focused on the disease fighting properties of natural compounds. We are finally getting the news that plant derivatives really can provide us with good health – on many levels.

Recent studies show how black raspberries help prevent cancer, that plums have previously unknown powerful antioxidant properties that rival the blueberry, and most recently, the astonishing disease fighting powers of turmeric have been discovered. Special technology has helped researchers define how plants and plant derivatives help us maintain health and prevent disease. (1)(2)(3)

Plants have provided humans with some of our most effective drugs, including aspirin, made from willow bark, yet only two percent of plants have been explored for drug development.

The Economic and Research council is “the UK's leading agency for research funding and training in economic and social sciences”, and they seek to bring plants and humans together. Their impetus is a timely one.

The ESRC recently published their view that “Plants are Political Hot Potatoes.” In their news release, they remind us that “green is the new gold”. In the journal Food Security, Dr Emma Frow, research fellow at the ESRC Genomics Forum says that safeguarding human health is a major concern, directly connected to also safeguarding plants. Dr. Flow says, "Our position paper argues that plants could be a perfect focal point for joined-up government thinking on food security, health, industry and climate change. Scientific advances are creating opportunities for all sorts of new and clever uses for plants - as biofuels, plastics, 'bio-factories' for chemical or drug production, and so on. In principle, many of these applications could be both environmentally sustainable and economically viable: a win-win situation."

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This is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. Darwin recognized the biodiversity of plants.

The Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science, to be held March 6 through March 15, explores how plants truly make a difference in our lives – an impact that ultimately affects every aspect of individual and planetary health. Plants have contributed to the development of drugs, provided us with sustenance, and have multiple applications for material development. The Festival includes hands on activities and educational films.

If you want to learn more, explore the ESRC website. We all need hope for tough economic times, new ideas for better directions for managing our own health, and new ideas to make our lives better.

Learning how plants make a difference in our lives, affecting every aspect of environmental and human health, may shed some new light on how humans and plants can support one another. After exploring suggestions from the ESRC, you just might feel a bit more grounded.

ESRC website

(1) http://www.aacr.org/home/public--media/news.aspx?d=1237

(2) http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja809217u?prevSearch=Ayyalusamy+Ramamoorthy&searchHistoryKey=

(3) http://www.emaxhealth.com/1020/74/28942/plums-rival-blueberries-cancer-and-disease-prevention.html