Health. The Curative Power of Tropical Rain Forests

Health. The Curative Power of Tropical Rain Forests
Yareah Magazine
Health. The Curative Power of Tropical Rain Forests

The Curative Power of Tropical Rain Forests at NYBG

Health. Discover the curative power of Tropical Rain Forests at NYBG’s new winter exhibition, ‘Wild Medicine in the Tropics.’ January 24–February 22, 2015.

Learn How Plants Are Used for Health and Wellness While Enjoying the Warmth of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Visitors to The New York Botanical Garden this winter can explore the warm rain forest and desert galleries of the landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to discover how plants are used for health and wellness during Wild Medicine in the Tropics, the Botanical Garden’s new winter exhibition. Drawing on the Haupt Conservatory’s richly varied permanent collection of tropical trees, exotic flowers, and desert succulents, Wild Medicine in the Tropics underscores the essential role that plants play in human health while providing an escape from winter’s icy grip.

Opening January 24 and running through February 22, 2015, Wild Medicine in the Tropics builds on the success of the Garden’s multifaceted 2013 exhibition, Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World, Featuring The Italian Renaissance Garden. With interpretative signage, an award- winning iPhone app, and related programming for adults and children, Wild Medicine in the Tropics shows how cultures around the world rely on plants for everything from medicine to cosmetics and features plants that are essential to a wide variety of healing traditions.

The winter period between the Garden’s major seasonal shows, when the climate in the Conservatory is inviting (65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the plant collections in a particular gallery) is an ideal time for visitors to immerse themselves in the Conservatory’s rich collections, a product of the Garden’s long history of scientific research and conservation in the tropics.

From the Common Cold to Cancer, People Use Plants to Fight Disease and Protect Health People have relied on the healing power of plants for millennia. Today, 25 percent of prescription medicines are derived from plant ingredients, and 4.5 billion people worldwide use plants for part of their
health care needs. During Wild Medicine in the Tropics, visitors will encounter more than 50 highlighted plant species and varieties found in different parts of the world that have been especially valued for their importance in promoting health or fighting disease.

From Central and South America, the bark of the cinchona tree (genus Cinchona) is the source of quinine, long used to prevent and treat malaria as well as to give tonic water its distinctive taste. In traditional Chinese medicine, the ephedra plant (genus Ephedra) has been used for thousands of years to alleviate the symptoms of asthma, allergies, and colds. It is the original source of the popular decongestants ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

And from Madagascar comes the rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus, shown at left), a pretty perennial with pink flowers whose leaves are the source of the powerful compounds vincristine and vinblastine, used in chemotherapy to fight cancer.

Also, to show that plant-based medicine can taste delicious as well as be therapeutic, informative signage will explain how the seeds of the tropical tree species Theobroma cacao are turned into one of mankind’s favorite treats—chocolate. Enjoyed for its rich flavor, chocolate also has medicinal properties.

Theobromine, the main active ingredient in chocolate, is a stimulant that dilates blood vessels, improving blood flow, while another ingredient, theophylline, is used to treat asthma and relieve congestion.

Mobile App and Programming Enhance the Wild Medicine in the Tropics Experience.

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