Health Team

UNC's Garden Could Be Good For Your Health

Posted June 15, 2007 5:48 p.m. EDT

— Gardening is a popular past time for many people, but it used to be a profession of old time healers.

Today, 25 percent of all medications come from plant chemicals – a lot of which might be growing in your garden, according to WRAL Health Team Physician Dr. Allen Mask.

The UNC Health Sciences Library has its own plant chemicals in the new Sam W. Hitt Medicinal Plant Gardens.

Carol Jenkins, director of the library, said the garden is more than just a touch of beauty in the midst of bricks and concrete. It's an educational experience for students in different medical studies.

One of my favorites is the Echinacea … It comes in lots of different colors,” Jenkins said.

She also enjoys the smell of lemon balm. Its leaves not only flavor tea, but the garden’s specific variety has medicinal value as a sedative, digestive aid, fever reducer and infection treatment.

Blueberries, which are tasty and healthy, serve as an antioxidant and insulin stimulant. The beautiful Aaron's Beard is the source of St. John's Wort, which is used to fight depression. Boneset can help reduce fevers and aid in digestion. Christmas fern helps with rheumatism.

Before using any of the medications in these plants, Dr. Mask warns that you should contact a professional.