Medicinal gardens are kicked off at Botanical Gardens in Buffalo

designer of medicinal garden at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical GardensThe  healing properties of plants will be showcased in two medicinal gardens– an outdoor garden and an indoor garden– at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo.

The medicinal gardens will provide visitors with a better understanding of the importance of medicinal plants and how the plants are used in traditional, herbal and modern medicines.

The Botanical Gardens is collaborating on the project with D’Youville College School of Pharmacy and Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, part of Catholic Health.

The outdoor medicinal garden will be created in 2012 to educate the public about medicinal plants and to create a beautiful place for spiritual healing, meditation and reflection.

It has been designed by Marla Tschieder, above, landscaper architect at Beautiful River Landscape Design in Buffalo and a volunteer docent at the Botanical Gardens.

“I believe in the medicinal power of plants,” Tschieder said. “This project is a union of that interest and my love of gardening.”

The garden will be shaped like a Seneca Nation medicine wheel, which you can also see in the photo above. It’s a healing circle with four radial spokes that honor the  cardinal directions: north, south, east and west.  Each direction is associated with a color and a spiritual property.

Tschieder plans to incorporate native medicinal plants that grow in our area, as well as ornamental plants that have medicinal properties.

Plants proposed for the outdoor garden include lavender, peppermint, clary sage, mustard, garlic, St. John’s wort, basil, dandelion, rosa rugosa, ginger root, burdock, fenugreek, comfrey, evening primrose, calendula, German chamomile, nettles, geranium, echinacea and angelica.

The indoor medicinal garden is starting as a collection of cancer-fighting plants since October is Cancer Prevention Month as well as National Pharmacy Month. This small garden will be the start to a large collection of indoor, tropical plants that are used for medicinal purposes.

The collection of cancer-fighting plants includes:

  • Turmeric. Studies have demonstrated potential anti-cancer properties and it is undergoing further research as potential chemotherapy drug.
  • Pacific yew. Used to create Paclitaxel, which has been approved by the FDA for treatment of various cancers.
  • Madagascar periwinkle. Used to create the FDA-approved drugs Vinblastine and Vincristine for treatment of brain tumors, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphomas and testicular cancer.
  • Ginseng. Studies have demonstrated potential anti-cancer properties based on traditional Chinese herbal medicine and it is undergoing further research as potential chemotherapy drug.
  • Saw palmetto. Studies have demonstrated potential anti-cancer properties. It is undergoing further research as potential chemotherapy drug and is licensed in Europe.
  • Bitter melon. Studies have demonstrated potential anti-cancer properties, especially in breast cancer, and it is undergoing further research as a potential chemotherapy drug.
  • Cayenne pepper. Studies have demonstrated potential anti-cancer properties used to topically to alleviate some chemotherapy- and radiation- related adverse effects. It is undergoing further research as a potential chemotherapy drug.
  • May apple. Used to create FDA -approved drugs Etoposide and Teniposide, which are currently used in treatment of leukemia, lung cancer and testicular cancer.
  • Camptotheca acuminate. Used to create FDA-approved drugs Irinotecan and Topotecan and is used for treatment of cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.

The indoor medicinal garden will continue to expand, and there are plans to highlight different groupings of plants throughout the year.

The indoor and outdoor medicinal gardens will be included in Botanical Gardens admission and will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday according to the Botanical Gardens schedule.

Read more: Herbal remedies & pharmaceuticals both start with plants

Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

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