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Plants in Medicine

Plants are of enormous importance both in healthcare (and indeed cooking). A huge percentage of all prescriptions contain plant ingredients one in four contain plant extracts or a synthetic (manufactured) version of their properties. Chinese medicines alone use over 5,000 plant species! The Madagascar Periwinkle flower, alone, has provided two drugs for treating childhood cancers and Hodgkinson’s disease . This use is usually from freshly picked plants which puts a danger of over harvesting and risk to the species. This is why the work of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is so vital. They have one of the largest (not in situ) seed banks in the world to save protected and rare species. They come from a diverse range of countries and habitats. If you would like to know more they have a very interesting website which covers a massive variety of plants and their uses in both medicines and cooking.