Plant Detective, The

Monday 3:58 PM and Saturday 6:00 PM

Each week Flora Delaterre a.k.a. The Plant Detective investigates a new medicinal plant somewhere around the globe--and it could be in your backyard. Beth Judy writes and voices this minute-and-a-half program in consult with Bastyr University, Tai Sophia Institute, and the Vermont School of Integrative Herbalism. Produced by MTPR. Podcasts available on this website as well.....

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat September 13, 2014

Goldenseal II

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) grows in eastern North America, where it's now threatened in the wild. An alkaloid in goldenseal, berberine, shows powerful antimicrobial effects against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts, and parasites. Herbalists prescribed goldenseal to stimulate the immune system, fight infection, and treat diarrhea.

(Podcast: The Plant Detective, 9/13/14)

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat September 6, 2014

Goldenseal I

There's a persistent urban legend concerning the herb,  goldenseal: take it before a urine test and you'll get false-negative results for a variety of recreational drugs. Disappointingly for those who try, goldenseal won't mask drug residues in the blood. The idea came from Stringtown on the Pike, a novel published in 1900 by plant pharmacist John Uri Lloyd. In the book, goldenseal causes a false-positive result for strychnine poisoning.

(Podcast: The Plant Detective, 9/6/14)

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Mexican Yam

In the 1930s, scientists trying to synthesize estrogen and progesterone for therapeutic uses - and possibly to create a new kind of contraceptive - faced an obstacle: they needed an abundant, cheap source of the hormones for mass production. Chemist Russell Marker discovered a way to extract progesterone from plants, and began searching for one that could yield enough of the hormone. After searching for a decade, he found it: the wild Mexican yam.

(Podcast: The Plant Detective, 8/30/14)

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat August 23, 2014

Tea Tree

Indigenous Australians use the twigs and leaves of the melaleuca (tea tree) medicinally, and science has confirmed the tree's antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.  Tea tree oil is used topically to treat a range of skin infections, cuts, burns, insect bites and stings. A 2012 review by the National Institutes of Health found that "a 5% tea tree oil gel appears to be as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide" for treating mild to moderate acne.

(Podcast: The Plant Detective, 8/23/14)

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat August 16, 2014

Camptotheca

In southern China, where Camptotheca acuminata is native, people call these big-leafed trees "Happy Trees." Chinese herbalists have been prescribing medicine from the leaves for centuries to treat various ailments, including leukemia. In the 1950s, National Cancer Institute researchers in the U.S. isolated the alkaloid camptothecin from the leaves, and today, several drugs derived from camptothecin help treat ovarian and colon cancer.

(Podcast: The Plant Detective, 8/16/14)

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat August 9, 2014

Periwinkle

Ever since people in tropical regions around the world began to grow Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) for its cheerful pink flowers, the plant has been known as a home remedy for diabetes. In the 1950s, when researchers began testing periwinkle for its anti-diabetic properties, they discovered several highly toxic alkaloids in the plant's tissues. Two of them led to key drugs for cancers of the blood: vinblastine and vincristine.

(Podcast: The Plant Detective, 8/9/14)

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat August 2, 2014

Nettle II

In the National Museum of Denmark, there's a 2,800 year old piece of Bronze Age cloth made from nettle fiber. Nettle fabric has been used a lot more recently: in the early 20th century, when Britain controlled India's supply of cotton, Germany and Austria got busy developing nettle as their own source of fabric. During World War I, German uniforms were made of it. Nettle can produce fabric dye, too. In the 1990s, German botanists re-discovered earlier research into high-fiber nettles, and today, various European clothing manufacturers specialize in nettle fabric clothing.

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Nettle I

It's not called "stinging nettle" for nothing: if you're going to spend time in a nettle patch, cover up. The hairs on nettle's leaves and stems are miniature hypodermics, waiting to pucture your skin, which - ouch! - stings, then burns, then aches. But on arthritic joints, that sting stimulates, then exhausts, the production of pain messengers to the brain. Nettle leaf soup (cooking neutralizes the sting) has been found to reduce pain and immobility in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Echinacea

When taken as herbal medicine, echinacea stimulates our immune systems, raising white blood cell counts and strengthening cell walls. Although it originated in North America, where native Americans used echinacea as something of a cure-all, in the 20th century, Germany is where its popularity first surged. People use echinacea to shorten the duration of the common cold and reduce the symptoms, and to boost immunity and fight off upper respiratory infections.

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Asian Ginseng

7/12/14: This week on The Plant Detective: Asian ginseng, Panax ginseng, helps people with Type 2 diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Both Asian and American ginseng contain ginsenosides, just in different proportions. Asian ginseng stimulates while American ginseng calms, and in the terms of Chinese traditional medicine, Panax ginseng promotes yang energy and cleans excess yin. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) does the opposite.

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