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Botanical Brain Balms

Dilston Physic Garden’s director and curator are publishing a book on plants for the brain – ‘Botanical Brain Balms: The authoritative guide to plants for memory, mood and mind’ with Filbert Press and publishers in the U.S., France and Germany. Discover 55 plants proven by science to boost mood and memory, relieve stress anxiety and sleeplessness and more.

Commission: Eavesdropping on Medicinal Plants

Physic Garden Commission: Eavesdropping on Medicinal Plants

The Person

We are looking for someone with electronic, electrical and musical expertise – and loads of enthusiasm and initiative.

The Project

Creating an electrical machine that will record changing electrical potentials on parts of plants in the Physic Garden.

Requirements: attachment leads, instrument conversion to readout as visual waves and audible response (could be converted to musical notes). Needs to be waterproof, portable, powered by mains and with rechargeable batteries .

Further info on machines that listen to plants is readily available online e.g. goo.gl/efPCiz

The Parameters

Completion by the spring of 2017

Funding – approx £2,000, dependent on provision of a warranty and follow up support

Contact: Elaine.perry@ncl.ac.uk

 

Come and Meet our St John’s Wort Serpent

Our wondrous St John’s Wort Serpent has just arrived.  Hypericum perforatum is a plant with holes in its leaves.  It acquired its common English name, St John’ s wort (SJW), as it flowers in midsummer (this Sunday) on the day of John the Baptist.  So it is truly a holy plant!  The ancients believed the plant would exorcise the devil – that was the metaphor used when people felt depressed – they thought they were possessed.  So the old story of the magic has kept the medicinal use of the plant going all these years up to modern times when SJW is used as an antidepressant herbal medicine.

SJW is used clinically in modern botanical medicine today in the UK to treat depression. There are many clinical trials indicating it as effective as antidepressant drugs like prozac for mild to moderate depression, but without the side-effects.  A recent review suggests it “has a very favourable safety profile, with adverse event rates on the same level as placebo and lower than that of synthetic antidepressants, in randomised controlled trials. It may therefore also be an option for patients who do not tolerate other antidepressant drugs. Patients with polydrug treatment should nevertheless use the drug with caution, due to its potential for interactions.”

The new sculpture thus represents that fascinating bridge between magic and medicine. It is made by our sculptor in residence, John Rutherford.

We are always open to suggestions for new outdoor artworks, and artists.  The next may be an image of a plant that has given us a modern drug, like the foxglove, willow or opium poppy.  If people had isolated and identified a single potent chemical from SJW – which they haven’t yet, only a variety of partly active ones – the plant might have provided a new and safer antidepressant drug.

The Dilston Physic Garden exists to spread the word on such great plant potentials for new, safe and effective therapies.