News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron General

Greater Akron Chamber

Akron Children's Hospital


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Health and Medicine




Exploradio: The lore and science of herbal medicine
Medicinal herb lore has been passed down through the generations, but tradition tells us, you first need to get to know your plant
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Both the flowers and berries of the elderberry have been used since prehistoric times as a tonic to treat respiratory ailments. The elderberry is the international herb of the year for 2013, but very few studies have been done to back-up the health properties of elderberry.
Courtesy of Bob Peterson, CC
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

For thousands of years, people have treated illnesses with herbs. And plants are still the source of dozens of modern pharmaceuticals. 

But many people are rediscovering traditional herbal medicine, taking extracts, capsules, and infusions to treat everything from arthritis to Alzheimer’s, often with little more than vague information to back up health claims.

In the first of a two-part Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at bridging the gap between herbal lore and modern science, starting with two people who say we first need to get to know the plants themselves.

LISTEN: Exploradio herb lore and science

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:10)


The word drug comes from “drogue,” an Old French term describing barrels used to hold dried herbs.  For centuries, people relied on the drugs in herbs to treat diseases, knowledge passed down generation to generation.  The Herb Society of America is headquartered in Kirtland, Ohio. It’s a national organization that promotes herbs and funds scientific research on the history and uses of beneficial plants.

Katrinka Morgan is executive director of the Herb Society of America, and Karen Kennedy is in charge of education.

Elderberry: International Herb of the Year

We chat on the back porch of their historic headquarters, as light rain waters the herb garden. Karen Kennedy introduces the international herb of the year, the elderberry. It's been used since prehistoric times as a tonic for respiratory ailments. Both the flowers and berries are used. Flavonoids in elderberries have been shown to have anti-viral properties, but very few human clinical studies have been done.

The value of traditions
Herb lore is in the realm of tradition, sometimes backed-up by science. While the active ingredients of many herbs are known, translating effects in the lab to commercial use can be tricky. Herb cultivation often requires specific conditions that are difficult to up-scale. Concentrations of active ingredients can vary. Preparation, storage, and administration of herbal remedies are difficult to standardize.

Still, the Herb Society's Karen Kennedy believes in the potential value of the herbal tradition. She says, "if a plant has been used for hundreds of years for a particular ailment, across cultures, my guess is there's something there that's real."  

The health benefits of the whole plant
Herb Society director Katrinka Morgan laments the loss of herbal lore over the years, although she says pockets of knowledge are retained in the American Appalachians and traditional cultures around the world. She says people have always learned the usefulness of plants growing near them, the original 'localism.'

Kennedy says people need to learn about the whole plant in order to fully benefit from herbs, not just reduce them to a single chemical ingredient. She says it's important to literally "smell the roses," and experience the sight, scent, and touch of therapeutic plants, to have some "down time with your little green."

The Herb Society encourages the interest and cultivation of herbs and learning herb lore, but director Morgan warns that many herbs have drug interactions with medications that need to be monitored by your doctor. For example, the ancient benefits of elderberries come with a warning, the unripe berries are poisonous.

Next week on Exploradio we’ll continue bridging the gap between lore and science by delving into local research on the wonders of pomegranates.

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing: Senator, You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald que...

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy f...

First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please le...

New process starts digesting sludge in Wooster
Awesome! When do our sewage rates decrease accordingly?

Akron's Chapel Hill Mall in foreclosure
Not a surprise. Between the shoplifting, gangs and violence that goes on up there it is no wonder that no one feels safe to shop at Chapel Hill. They have sca...

Ohio launches investigation into at least one Concept charter school
I worked at Noble Academy Cleveland as admin assistant and enrolment coordinator for 6 years, I know this is so valid and true and can provide staff names and p...

Crisis looms in filling aviation industry jobs in Ohio and the nation
I listened to this story yesterday morning on the radio and just want to add this comment. My son went to school to train as an air traffic controller, and gra...

Cuyahoga Valley National Park considers fire to fight invasives
I'm for the controlled burn. There are not enough people (myself included) who volunteer for the removal of invasive plant species. Therefore, another solution ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University