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Medicinal Plants Roundup

September 1, 2006

Scientists are finding more and more plant compounds that fight disease.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Disease-fighting plants. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Ancient Britons and Celts made a bright blue war paint from a plant called Woad, in the broccoli family. Now scientists at the University of Bologna in Italy have found that Woad contains high concentrations of a compound called glucobrassican—the cancer-fighting chemical also found in brocolli. Both plants produce the compound to ward off plant-eating bugs, but woad produces twenty times more of it. The researchers say that finding the rich source of glucobrassican will help them study the compound and how it fights cancer.

In other medicinal plant news, doctors from the US and China announced that an extract from the fruit of the gardenia may be useful in the treatment of diabetes. The extract is used in traditional Chinese medicine, and the researchers report that it actually improves the functioning of body’s insulin producing cells.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.