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VOL VII, issue 2

© Kat Morgenstern 2008

Welcome to the Sacred Earth Newsletter

Fall Summer's turned to autumn and autumn is just about to hit the curve and turn to winter. For weeks I have watched the riot of colours in the trees, watched, as leaves come drifting down like confetti, a last glimpse of gone-by summer days - only to settle on the ground and slowly turn muddy brown. Nature is withdrawing her energies back into the earth womb, a dark, silent chamber of rejuvenation, where hidden from view, new life will soon begin to stir. But for now, the life-force is spent. And while it rests below ground, waiting for the warming rays of the sun to return winter will move in and cover everything under a thick white cloak.

This is a time of reflection, of regrouping, of concentration and for envisioning the future. For when winter has reached its darkest moment and we journey through the longest night, the promise of the sun's return re-awakens as a faintly shimmering ray of light, a star of hope that pierces through the long dark night. The hardest part of winter is still to come, yet the sun will not be deterred - every day it waxes by a slither, and little by little it wins the day!

I find myself musing about the cycles of time, trying to synchronize my inner clock with the workings of the seasons. The summer has not exactly been easy - a surgical procedure, which although not dangerous or life threatening, has still thrown a spanner in the works and left me rather decapacitated for a couple of months or so, followed by two moves in as many months. Finally I have come to resting place, a sanctuary that will provide the necessary peace and quiet I need in order to regroup and recoup after all that.

Now you know why there have been no newsletters this year, just in case you have been wondering. By the looks of it there won't be another one until early next year. There is too much catching up to do on other fronts. Thus, I wish you all a happy and festive Yuletide and soul warming comfort drawn from the hearth of love and friendship.

I hope you will enjoy this issue
See you all next year!

November, 2008

I would love to hear your comments, so please send your feedback to:


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foraging Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis

Evening Primrose

Oenothera biennis

© by Kat Morgenstern

Foraging Evening Primrose

Autumn - my favourite foraging time. Seeds are ripening, nuts are swelling, mushrooms make their elusive appearances, and even when things seemed to have died off for good, one can dig for their hidden goodness below ground. A wonderful autumn crop to forage for is Evening Primrose. The tall, lanky stalk with the large, somewhat ghostly, pale yellow flowers that only open in the evening is a very common sight. Indeed, in some parts it is considered a weed. The plant's true beauty is revealed only at night, when the flowers open fully and their subtle scent perfumes the air.

Evening Primrose is not a particularly choosy or demanding plant. It is quite happy with poor, sandy soil as long as it gets its sun. Waste grounds, verges of railway tracks, neglected corners of the yard - that type of terrain. In such places it can be quite prolific.

All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves of both, first and second year's growth can be picked and used cooked or fresh - but they are quite pungent and a little hairy and may not be to everyone's liking. Best to try a little bit first, to see if you like the taste, and mix with other, milder herbs according to your taste buds. The flowers are slightly sweet to taste and can be used to decorate a salad, for example.

When fall comes along, the seed pods ripen. The elongated capsules hold quite a good quantity of tiny seeds. But if you think you could press your own oil, I have to disappoint you. The seeds are miniscule so you literally would need millions of them to make the effort worthwhile. Furthermore, pressing seeds produces energy - heat in other words that can destroy the beneficial properties of the oil.

However, you can use the seeds like poppy seeds in cooking and baking and they will still convey some of their goodness. However, the quantity that can be gotten this way is very small. Grind them before adding them to your recipes, as this will help to release the oil. Whole seeds are likely to simply pass straight through the digestive system without bestowing their beneficial properties to the body.


Planting the Future - One Seed at a Time



That all the earth is fragile and that we must not take from her beyond what she can sustain. Overharvesting, particularly due to commercial collection of medicinal plants has brought many once plentiful plant species to the brink of extinction. As 'plant people', we should adopt an attitude of green guardianship for mother earth, who so plentifully provides for us.

Here are the rules that every forager should live and breathe by:

Get to know the plants that grow around you on a personal, first name basis: familiarize yourself with the herbs, bushes and trees in your neighborhood, try to learn as much as possible about the ecosystem of which you are a part and the plant members of your 'extended family'. Learn to identify them correctly and investigate all their uses. Try to understand it as part of a larger ecosystem. Which animals like it or dislike it? With which other plants does it form communities? Is it native or invasive? Does it protect the ground or deplete it of any of its nutrients? How does it 'fit' into its environment? What can you learn from its chemistry? Building this kind of holistic knowledge base will give you a much deeper insight into the nature of a plant and its role within the ecosystem. Its a lengthy process, but vital if you want to truly get to know your plant friends and the habitat you share.

It is especially important that you learn to identify the poisonous plants you are likely to encounter, lest they inadvertently end up on your dinner plate, which could be most unpleasant or in the worst case scenario, even lethal. The importance of this point is completely obvious, but cannot be stressed enough. Some people hold the false and dangerous belief that what can be found in nature cannot harm them. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING YOU CANNOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY AND DEEM SAFE. When you think you know a plant, think again and see what other, non-edible look-alikes might be fooling you. This is even more important when it comes to collecting mushrooms, as there are many poisonous mushrooms out there that have evolved to be masters at deceiving unsuspecting mushroom hunters. There are also many more potentially deadly mushrooms with edible look-alikes than there are deadly plants with edible look-alikes.

Don't be greedy!

Familiarize yourself with the plants that are listed on the endangered species list for your area. Apart from being unethical, it is also highly illegal to pick endangered plant species. Instead of taking rare plants, consider sowing their seeds in the wild.

Only pick as much as you need and never take ALL the plants of any one kind in a given patch. After harvesting an area give the plants plenty of time to recover before returning to the same patch. Be especially conscientious when it comes to harvesting roots and barks. Remember that often harvesting roots means the death of the plant, so before you start digging ask yourself if this plant is really plentiful and if it can sustain a harvest of its roots. If in doubt, don't collect. Consider growing some in your garden rather than depleting natural stands. Collecting barks can also be fatal to a tree. If you must collect this part, try to collect it from smaller branches rather than the stem, from branches that have fallen, or from trees that are due to be cut for other purposes.

However tempting it may look, never pick in places that are subject to pollution from roads, industry or heavy spraying of farm chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc.). And don't collect from nature reserves either - these are areas set up to protect wild species, so give them their space and let them be!

Cast seeds of native species to the earth and to the winds once in a while - as a way of giving something back. Consider adopting a little patch that you are particularly fond of. When you are out and about, never leave any litter behind, but try to bring some back with you - I always carry two bags, one for foraging and one for litter picking. Give thanks to the plants and to Mother Earth who has provided them.

In Association with


Think Globally - Eat Locally

Reducing your carbon foot print by eating local produce

Farmers Market - Preserving Local Food TraditionsNot a day goes by without some news item about global warming and our massive carbon foot print that is threatening to stomp out life as we know it. We are all aware of how much carbon dioxide is blown into the air by just about everything, including bovine digestive systems, not to mention cars, factories or planes that atomize fossil fuels at frightening speeds and quantities. The modern convenience lifestyle is extremely energy hungry and more and more people around the world want their slice of the pie. It all adds up.

There are numerous energy hungry devices we cannot do without, though we may try to reduce our use and dependence on them. We all need warmth in the winter, and most of us can't do without cars, especially those of us who live in the countryside. But we do have a bit more choice when it comes to making every day consumer decisions.

Fairtrade BananasI challenge you to take a look into your fridge and larder. What do you see? How many items do you buy that are pre-made? Where do your vegetables and meats come from? Butter from New Zealand? Meat from Argentina? Grapes from France, Avocadoes from Israel? If you are like most people chances are that the contents of your fridge come from all over the world, and have arrived at your home at a considerable energy cost. What do you detect that has been grown or manufactured within, say, 50 miles of your home? Do you buy local honey or jams from a farm store nearby? Are your seasonal fruits locally grown? Think about it. For each and every item that we commonly buy at our local supermarkets tons of energy are pumped not only into transporting them there from far and yonder, but often also to keep them fresh and cool, or, to produce them in the first place.

Fish caught anywhere except your local creek, without proper cooling, would rot before it even arrived at your fish market. Meat is no different and nor are certain sensitive vegetables or fresh herbs. Even cut flowers that decorate our homes are often grown far, far away. They must be flown in, in specially cooled air crafts, to arrive fresh and pristine at your local store and look as though they have just been cut at the nursery down the road.

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Escape the crowds this Winter - Discover Nicaragua

Birdwatching in NicaraguaNicaragua, Costa Rica's northern neighbor, has long been overlooked by travelers. It is still haunted by the lingering shadow of its recent civil war - even though peace has long since returned to Nicaragua and the country now enjoys a stable and democratic system of governance. Since then many improvements have been made to the infrastructure of the country that make life for the locals easier and travel more comfortable.

Travel in Nicaragua has a unique appeal, if you are a lover of Latin American cultures - one of the legacies of the civil war has been the fact that Nicaragua has escaped the era of rapid and thoughtless development that has laid waste to many other hitherto prestine regions of Mexico and Central America - all in the name of tourism and growth.

Although agriculture features highly as a source of national income, large tracts of the country are unsuitable for cultivation and remain untouched. Several unique areas have been declared as nature reserves and national parks. The large regions of coastal wetlands and interior fresh water lakes are fabulous places for bird watching and wildlife observation and the country's cloud forest remains quite pristine. There is a true wealth of natural treasures to be discovered here, in an unspoilt and still largely authentique environment.

For example...

Corn Island, Nicaragua
Corn Island Get-Away

If you are a 'beach person' and dream of a perfect white sand tropical get away, Corn Island may be the 'island escape' you have been looking for. Swimming in turquoise waters, snorkeling among psychelic coloured fish, supreme hammock surfing relaxation, interesting local culture and yummy sea food - these are the elements that combine into a perfect Island retreat. What you won't find are crowded beaches, traffic and similar annoyances commonly found at 'beach resorts'. Corn Island offers peace and tranquility when you really want to get away from it all and enjoy some simple pleasures.

We recommend a 4 day/ 3 night stay, but you decide! The package is completely flexible.

Rates depend on the length of the stay and the hotel you choose. Based on double occupancy rates start at US$370 per person. Includes return airfare from Managua and hotel accommodation with breakfast in double room, but no tours or guides.

We can also customize any itinerary you have in mind, just drop us an e-mail with your ideas.

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No Food for Fuel

Sustainable DevelopmentThese days, most of us are feeling the pinch. We have lived in an illusory bubble of credit, based on fictitious values that have been conjured up out of thin air in stock market casinos around the world. Alas, the bubble popped and all of a sudden we have lost our bearings. Life is the same as it ever was, but nobody seems to know anymore what the true value of anything should really be.

Money makes the world go round - and sometimes spin out of control. We are on a dangerous roller-coaster ride that seems to have no restraints and nothing to hold on to that is of actual, tangible, lasting value.

Governments around the world have just spent billions upon billions (one billion = 1000 millions) of dollars to rescue inept companies in an attempt to stabilize the economy. But as the entire global economy has degenerated into a casino game, markets are governed not by real values, but by fear, expectations, illusions, and cunning.

Do these people ever stop to think how their gambling affects people in the real world? Think about the 3rd world farmer, for example, who is dependent on growing cash crops for our pleasure - chocolate, coffee, tea, sugar, etc. Investors gamble with the lives of the poorest of the poor. When stock prices plummet the already meagre margin on their profits vanishes and gazillions of farm worker's incomes evaporate likewise. The value of their sweat and labour can sink from say, $3 to $1 a day in seconds. At the best of times, more than 1,3 billion people subsist on $1 a day, and some 24 000 people die of hunger every day. That is one person every 3 seconds. The economic crisis has wreaked havoc in the developed world. Thousands of people have lost their homes. In the third world it costs lives.

The recent economic crisis has intensified the struggle that poor people are facing around the world. The rise in demand for fuel and the subsequent spiralling of oil prices is putting more and more pressure on cropland to be converted to bio-diesel crops instead of food. In fact, governments are paying millions of dollars in subsidies to encourage farmers to sacrifice their fields for fuel production. As food becomes scarce and demand increase, the prices rise - well beyond what is affordable on a budget of a few dollars a day to feed a family. A food crisis of unprecedented proportions is upon us.

Clearing Land to Grow BiofuelsThe prices of numerous staple foods have doubled in recent months, provoking riots in many poor nations. The irony is that although bio-fuel has a green image, it is not a green solution: It does not reduce our appetite for energy and therefore does little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, growing bio-fuels requires vast amounts of fertilizers (needing more energy for their production) and often means the destruction of ancient rain forests to clear land for cultivation of say, oil palm plantations. But the 'bio-fuel' industry cloaks itself with image of 'sustainable development', which can be bandied around by politicians and serve as green suits for their campaigns, yet in reality, they turn the very concept of 'sustainability' into a joke.



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Rainforest conversion to oil palm causes 83% of wildlife to disappear, September 15, 2008

Conversion of primary rainforest to an oil palm plantation results in a loss of more than 80 percent of species, reports a new comprehensive review of the impacts of growing palm oil production. The research is published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

"By compiling scientific studies of birds, bats, ants and other species, we were able to show that on average, fewer than one-sixth of the species recorded in primary forest were found in oil palm," said lead author Emily Fitzherbert from the Zoological Society of London and University of East Anglia. "Degraded forest, and even alternative crops such as rubber and cocoa, supported higher numbers of species than oil palm plantations."

The results confirm that oil palm plantations are a poor substitute for natural forests when it comes to conservation of biological diversity.

The study warns that burgeoning demand for palm oil for use in foods, household products, and biodiesel will continue to fuel expansion in the tropics. Because planters can subsidize operations by the initial logging for forest plots, it seems likely that forests will continue to fall for new plantations despite the availability of large tracts of degraded and abandoned land.

"There is enough non-forested land suitable for plantation development to allow large increases in production without large impacts on tropical forests, but as a result of political inertia, competing priorities and lack of capacity and understanding, not to mention high levels of demand for timber and palm oil from wealthy consumers, it is still often cheaper and easier to clear forests. Unless these conditions change quickly, the impacts of oil palm expansion on biodiversity will be substantial," the authors conclude.

CITATION: Emily B. Fitzherbert, Matthew J. Struebig, Alexandra More, Finn Danielsen, Carsten A. Brühl, Paul F. Donald, Ben Phalan. How will oil palm expansion affect biodiversity? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 23, Issue 10, October 2008, Pages 538-545

For full story, please see:

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Living Woods

Review: New Magazine - 'Living Woods'

Editor Nick Gibbs' presents a new branch of 'wood interest magazine' - living woods, a lively, diverse and highly interesting magazine covering issues pertaining to 'green wood crafing', sustainable forestry and all things related to trees and woodlands. It is decidedly British in style, but aims at a global coverage and audience. Issues covered include current conservation topics, topical debates, green crafts, wooden arts and crafts, family fun in the woods, foraging in the woods and medicine from trees. This is an exciting new magazine that brings 'woodworking' and 'forestry' issues out from the shed where they have long been in the domain of rather conservative thinking dominated by a utilitarian value consciousness and into the domain of current and common interest. Our relationship to trees and woodlands is deeply entwined with the roots of culture and it is time to rejuvenate this ancient relationship. Living Woods makes a timely contribution to the theme of 'wood crafting' and sustainable forestry that is entertaining, useful, thought provoking and informative.

From the editor: Living Woods is the only magazine aimed at people who love trees and wood, and want to make both part of their lives. We cover everything from the medicinal use of trees, to food from woodlands, green woodworking, building with wood, the use of wood as fuel, and much more. The magazine is published bi-monthly, and if you'd like to see a free copy please email us at

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Oryza sativa



All life is grass, or something like that. In this case, the grass takes the shape of rice, an incredibly adaptable and variable type of grass. Although there are only two main species that are cultivated, Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima, each of these has many different strains. In fact, it is so variable in appearance and habit that it is almost impossible to give a general description. Nobody really knows how many different strains of rice there are. Estimates range from 140 000 to 200 000, and they come in all kinds of sizes, colours and forms.

Most of us visualize rice as a wetland plant that grows in shallow pools of water known as paddies, and this is indeed the most common form. However, there are also types that grow on dry land, and others that can handle almost total submergence in water. Rice is ideally adapted to tropical and subtropical conditions marked by heavy seasonal rainfall, but it will grow as far as 45 degrees north and today is cultivated on every continent except Antarctica.

Rice has been around for a very, very long time. In fact, its origins seem to stretch into mythological times, a time when continents known as Pangaea and Gondwanaland still existed. At least that is what archaeologists conclude from the fact that very old varieties are found in different parts of the world which did not have contact with each other, and nor were those varieties particularly cultivated by the natives, e.g. of Australia. Exactly where the original cradle of rice is to be found is still a moot point among paleoethnobotanists. Some claim it for China, others for India and some even for Africa. Indeed there is a variety of Rice that is only found in certain places in West Africa and nowhere else. But does that mean all types came from here? Most probably not. Most paleoethnobotanist assume 'somewhere' in Southeast Asia as the cradle of rice cultivation. It is known to have spread to Japan from China sometime during the 2nd century BC. By this time it was already known in Europe. Arab trading caravans were the first to bring the grain of life back with them. A little later, Alexander the Great also brought some back to Greece. It was introduced to the Carolinas in 1647.

What is known is that human beings have gathered and eaten rice for a very long time, and that its use is most widespread throughout Asia. Indeed, it would be fair to say that in many parts of Asia 'Life' is synonymous with 'Rice' - it is a way of life, so intricately entwined are its cultivation, its seasons and harvest rituals with the daily rhythms of life and the greater cycles of life of the people. Thus is several Asian tongues the word for rice also means life, food, agriculture and the scientific name 'Oryza' is derived from an ancient Greek word, which in turn is said to be derived either from an Arab or a Chinese word meaning 'the good grain of life' (Heiser, 1973).

95% of all the rice produced on the planet is consumed within the country where it is produced, and 90% of all the rice produced is grown in Asia. Some 2.9 billion people depend on it for their sustenance as a main staple. Many Asians eat it at every meal, 3 times a day - though many more only eat it once a day, one bowl of rice, and nothing else. The average person in Asia consumes about 200 - 400 pounds of it every year, while the average American consumes only about 7 pounds a year.


Rice paddies keep erosion to a minimumAlthough it is not so easy to find and determine very ancient plant remains in tropical climates, archaeologists have dated the earliest use of rice to at least 10 000 BC, and its earliest cultivation to around 7000 BC - 4000 BC, with great regional variations.

Today, rice is produced on every continent except Antarctica - in no less than 112 countries around the world. There are numerous different strains, each adapted to the preferences of the local people, as well as specific environmental conditions. There is long grain rice and short grain rice, and fragrant rice and sticky rice and although once processed most rice is uniformly white, in its raw, unprocessed state, it can come in many different colours.

Wild rice, however, is not 'rice' at all. It is a completely different species - Zizania aquatica. Traditionally it has been harvested from the wild by hand by Native Americans of the Great Lakes region, though these days it is also grown in Minnesota and northern California.

Traditional methods of rice cultivation are very labour intensive. Culture and agriculture are very closely linked in that cultivation practices have given rise to tool inventions as well as animal domestication to help with the ploughing and harvesting of the grain. This is as true for wheat as it is for rice. In Asia the water buffalo is the chosen beast of labour, while in Europe it was mostly the horse.

Old strains of rice had a long maturation cycle and were able to reproduce vegetatively, but over time newer strains have lost this ability and depend entirely on humans for their reproduction.

Originally rice was planted by simply casting the seed, but over time more sophisticated methods have evolved. Most rice is sprouted in special seedling beds and then transplanted by hand to the paddy after about 30 - 50 days.

The paddy is ploughed to keep the weeds down and elaborate irrigation methods have been devised in order to keep the paddies amply watered throughout the growing cycle. Rice is very thirsty; it takes about 5000 litres of water to produce a single kilogram.

Read the full article...

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Abandoning wine corks risks screwing up landscape in Portugal

WWF-Canon / Sebastian Rich, 16 September 2008

Abandoning wine corks for screw tops and plastic substitutes is not only flying in the face of tradition, it is also damaging to the environment. It is a point being made in “Save Miguel”, an online campaign by the world’s leading cork maker Amorim Corticeira, which follows a WWF report detailing how traditional cork forests are holding back desertification in Portugal. In the campaign video American comedian Rob Schneider travels to Portugal on a mission to 'Save Miguel', an oak tree in the heart of the cork-growing region.

The WWF report, 'The Cork Oak, a Barrier Against Desertification', urges Portugal to expand its cork forests to prevent growing desertification caused by global warming. 'Portuguese forests may face an environmental and economic crisis that will move the desertification border in Portugal north, unless we act now and adapt to the climate changes,' said WWF Forest Officer Luis Silva. Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork used in wine bottles but the density of trees in cork forests has fallen in recent years. Because cork trees are not cut down and water is retained in the forests because of falling leaves they are uniquely environmentally sustainable. The bark of individual trees is cut for cork only every nine years. The report finds that if Portugal were to expand its current cork forests by just 20 percent, desertification could be effectively stopped by the year 2020.

Read full article...

Pine bark reduces knee osteoarthritis

United Press International, USA, 4 September 2008

Bratislava, Slovakia (UPI). A third clinical trial in Slovakia confirms evidence that the antioxidant pycnogenol lowers joint pain, researchers said. A study, published in the August Journal of Phytotherapy Research, said Pycnogenol – a bark extract from the French maritime pine tree -- reduced overall knee osteoarthritis symptoms by 20.9 percent and lowered pain by 40.3 percent. Researchers in Comenius University School of Medicine in Bratislava said 100 patients with stage I or II osteoarthritis were included in the study and were randomly allocated to either a Pycnogenol or a placebo. Patients were supplemented with 150 mg Pycnogenol or placebo per day for three months. They were allowed to continue taking pain medication prescribed before the study but had to record every pill taken.

Read the full story


Antonio Brack, Peru's minister of environment, seems ready to back a declaration of Peru as a GM-free nation.


Germany wants EU member states to have the power to block GM crops in their countries, agriculture minister Horst Seehofer said.

UK government ministers are facing an unprecedented Celtic revolt from their Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts as they launch a new campaign to plant GM crops in Britain. All three devolved governments have declared themselves implacably opposed to any GM crops in their territory, setting the scene for one of their sharpest-ever confrontations with Westminster. And their opposition is likely to have an impact throughout Europe, sapping the UK's hitherto obdurate support for the introduction of the technology throughout the Continent.

Celtic revolt
Scotland urges UK wide ban on gm crops
The Last Straw?
As Extreme Genetic Engineers Gather in Hong Kong, Critics Warn of Corporate Grab on Plant Life
SynBio 4.0 = SynBio-4-profit

Synthetic biologists, a brave new breed of science entrepreneurs who engineer life-forms from scratch, will hold their largest-ever global gathering in Hong Kong, October 10-12, known as "Synthetic Biology 4.0." Although most people have never heard of synthetic biology, it's moving full speed ahead fueled by giant agribusiness, energy and chemical corporations with little debate about who will control the technology, how it will be regulated (or not) and despite grave concerns surrounding the safety and security risks of designer organisms. Corporate investors/partners include BP, Chevron, Shell, Virgin Fuels, DuPont, Microsoft, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland.

"SynBio 4.0 sounds like a convention for science geeks, but the real agenda is SynBio-4-profit," said Pat Mooney of ETC Group. Mooney will lead a panel discussion at the Hong Kong meeting featuring civil society activists who will raise broader concerns about the technology. The panel, "Global Social Impact," is scheduled Saturday morning, 11 October, 10:30-12:00 hrs.

A Extreme Genetic Engineers Gather in Hong Kong, Critics Warn of Corporate Grab on Plant Life

India to cut tobacco area by promoting medicinal plants

Reuters India, India, 9 September 2008

Mumbai. The Indian government will provide assistance to farmers diverting area under tobacco towards medicinal plants, a government release said on Tuesday. The government will support tobacco growers to switch to other crops and will use a 6-billion-rupee fund for promotion of medicinal plants, Anbumani Ramadoss, federal health minister, was quoted as saying in the release. However, higher tobacco prices are prompting Indian farmers to increase area under the leaf. The average price of the premier grade used for cigarette-making, flue cured virginia (FCV), has risen to 84.67 rupees per kg from 47.47 rupees a year ago. India is the second biggest producer of tobacco after China and the fourth-biggest exporter of unmanufactured tobacco.

For full story, please see:

Nigeria: Study unveils medicinal plants for skin problems

Nigerian Tribune, Nigeria, 25 September 2008

Medicinal plants in Nigeria were considered by several researchers to form an important component of the natural wealth of the country, considering that the tropical rainforest of which Nigeria is a reservoir of chemical substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes. Some of their ancient indigenous uses were discovered by a series of "trial and error" which then could not be proven by scientific theories though the results have been beneficial and efficient compared to conventional modern medicines.

However, these ancient indigenous uses of the plants vary from one community to another, necessitating that such plants be identified and documented according to the ailments cured, preparations and administrations of the herbs as well as local and common names for easy communication. One of such efforts was that by researchers from the University of Benin that studied medicinal plants used in treating skin diseases by healers in Ovia North- East local government area of Edo State. The study titled: "Ethno-Medicinal Uses of Plants in the Treatment of Various Skin Diseases in Ovia North-East, Edo State, Nigeria" was carried out by Dr. R.K.A. Egharevba of the Department of Crop Science and Dr. M.I. Ikhatua in the Department of Forestry and Wildlife.

For full story, please see:

Herbal way to combat mosquito

Source: Bernama, Malaysia, 24 September 2008
Kuala Lumpur. Despite rapid advances in medical sciences during the past decades, mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, Japanese encephalitis (JE), 'filiarisis', malaria and chikungunya continue to haunt mankind. This is due to the fact that the mosquito vectors as well as causative agents like bacteria and fungi have developed resistance against the pesticides and anti-microbial drugs. "Dengue, which has spread across the globe, is caused by the breeding and adaptation of the Aedes aegyptii and Aedes albopictus mosquito. This is the reason why dengue is still rampaging in Asia," Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) Dr Nor Azah Mohamad Ali told Bernama here recently. Dr Nor Azah is a senior researcher with medicinal plants programme at FRIM's Forest Biotechnology Division. According Dr Nor Azah the best move to curb the breeding of the mosquito is to destroy its larva or through the use of insect repellents. "At the moment, the control of the mosquito vectors depends on the chemical-based and synthetic repellents like dimethyl phthalate, malathion and dimethyl-m-toluamide (DEET)." She said even though the chemicals are effective, some could be hazardous apart from being ozone-depleting and continuous use could turn the mosquito vectors resistant to insecticides. Dr Nor Azah suggested the possibility of using herbs and spices, whose essential oils are able to repel insects, be used in insecticides. This is due to the presence of monoterpenoids like limonene, citronellol, geraniol and citronellal that have been reported as having insect repellent properties. "As aroma play an important role towards controlling the insects behaviour, essential oils can be used as insect repellents", she said.

From FRIM's research, a number of essential oils such as Cymbopogon nardus, Litsea eliptica, Melaleuca cajuputi and Cinnamomum spp demonstrate repellent properties against the Aedes agyptii mosquito. She said essential oils from other plants, reported to be able to repel insects are that from geranium (Pelargonium citrosum), sandalwood (Aquilaria malaccensis) and Sweet Basil (Ocimum spp). "There are other aromatic species that can be found in the Malaysian forest or that cultivated in parks for their medicinal properties and culinary reasons. Essential oils from these species are also preferred by the essential oil industry," said Dr Nor Azah, who has been with FRIM since 1987. Since the early 1990s, FRIM has carried out research on the potential for their extracts to be used for various purposes. "Our research is focused on the extraction process. We also make trips to the jungle for random sampling of plants that contain essential oils. FRIM's efforts are among the earliest research work on essential oils in Malaysia," she said.

For full story, please see:

Norway joins fight to save Amazon

BBC News, UK, 17 September 2008

Norway has pledged $1bn (£500m) to a new international fund to help Brazil protect the Amazon rainforest. The donation is the first to the fund which Brazil hopes will raise $21bn to protect Amazon nature reserves. Norway's prime minister said the project was important in the fight to reduce global warming. Brazil is one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, with three-quarters of its total coming from the burning of trees in the Amazon. The money will be released over seven years to promote alternatives to forest-clearing for people living in the Amazon, and support conservation and sustainable development. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said: "Efforts against deforestation may give us the largest, quickest and cheapest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”Brazilian efforts against deforestation are therefore of vital importance if we shall succeed in our campaign against global warming," he added. The Brazilian government wants to raise $21bn through foreign donors by 2021, although President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has insisted that the Amazon's preservation is Brazil's responsibility. He welcomed Norway's pledge, saying: "The day that every developed country has the same attitude as Norway, we'll certainly begin to trust that global warming can be diminished." Japan, Sweden, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland are said to be considering donating to the fund, which was launched last month.

For full story, please see:



November 7 - 8, 2008

Ethnobotany: Integrating Biology and Traditional Knowledge, St. Louis, MO

The WLBC will host the second William L. Brown Symposium at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This two-day symposium, entitled Ethnobotany: Integrating Biology and Ethnobotany. It will consist of a series of lectures and workshops. During the meeting, we will also honor Dr. Nancy Turner of the University of Victoria in British Columbia for her work on traditional land and resource management systems of indigenous peoples in western Canada; Dr. Turner is this year’s recipient of the Wm. L. Brown Award for Excellence in Genetic Resource Conservation.
For Additional information please visit Web Site:

November 7 - 9, 2008

WHO Congress on Traditional Medicine, Beijing, China

WHO Congress on Traditional Medicine. Beijing, China. ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal will present a lecture covering “Opportunities and Interests in the U.S.” The Congress will be held in Beijing, People's Republic of China from 7 to 9 November 2008, to coincide with WHO's 60th anniversary, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration. This year's conference will review the role of traditional medicine and associated practitioners in health care in line with the Alma-Ata Declaration and in the renewal of primary health care and the progress of the countries in the field of traditional medicine. For more information, please visit Web site:

November 9 - 14, 2008

4th World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (WOCMAP), Cape Town, South Africa

4th World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (WOCMAP). Cape Town, South Africa. The 4th WOCMAP—Using Plants to Benefit People—will be held by the non-governmental body, the International Council for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. This organization strides to encourage international understanding and cooperation between national and international organizations on the role of medicinal and aromatic plants in science, medicine, and industry. The conference will be held in Cape Town, once called heaven on earth by Carl Linnaeus because of its floral diversity, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). The CTICC is situated near high-quality accommodations, and tourist attractions such as the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and the famous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, which is tucked between Robben Island and Table Mountain. The conference will include presentations by leading scientists on the developments in medicinal and aromatic plant knowledge, and all abstracts will be published in the South African Journal of Botany.
For more information visit Web Site :

November 28 - 30, 2008

Herbal World 2008: International Conference & Exhibition on Medicinal Plants, Herbal Products & Natural Health
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The objective of this conference and exhibition is to gather all key players in this industry on this common platform to share global experiences and exchange ideas, thus creating a global market for herbal products and to establish Malaysia as a "Global Herbal Hub" for building a Buyer's-Seller's Platform and Business Matching with the business group for searching possible profitable business linkages. Herbal World 2008 will also incorporate an exhibition, focusing on the display of the Medicinal, Aromatic & Spice Plants, Herbs and related materials. For more information, please visit Web Site:

December 8 - 10, 2008

9th National Conference on Science, Policy & the Environment: Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World. Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, Washington, D.C., USA.

The National Council for Science & the Environment invites you to participate in the 9th National Conference on Science, Policy & the Environment to develop and advance science-based solutions to challenges the changing world poses to biodiversity (and to humanity). Join the dialogue with leading scientists, policy makers, industry leaders, educators, environmentalists, and other solutions-oriented innovators to develop a 21st century approach for biodiversity management and conservation. For more information, or to register, please visit Web site:

December 16-21, 2008

3rd World Ayurveda Congress & Arogya 2008 Jaipur, India

This program was developed to throw light on different issues in ayurveda concerning education and research, drug development and manufacturing, medicinal plantation and conservation, keeping global scenario in view. WAC is a platform to bring all sectors of ayurveda at a common place to disseminate ideas and Information. Key objectives include leveraging the transfer of technology and knowledge to create better products and education, maximizing the manufacturing capacity through sharing and standardization, and discovering and exploring the new opportunities across the globe to increase the trade. For more information, please visit Web Site:

February 19 - 21, 2008

The Integrative Healthcare Symposium. New York, NY. Areas of Focus will include Environmental Health; Women's Health; Nutrition; Spirituality and Consciousness; and Practice Management with PractiCAM workshops in Rhythm and Movement, Mind-Body Medicine, and Traditional Healing. For more information please visit Web Site.

February 26-28, 2009

International Herbal Conference on Herbal Medicine - "Evaluation of Quality, Efficacy and Safety." JN Tata Auditorium-National Science Seminar Complex-Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. Renewed interest in Natural Health Products [NHP] globally has opened many new areas for exploration of natural products particularly Phytomedicines, which require coordination and harmonization of regulations related to their research and development as both Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals. There have been inconsistencies in the quality control of herbal products around the globe and a number of initiatives have been taken to provide a more harmonized and consistent regime. This conference will provide an ideal platform for interaction, debate, fusion and dissemination of ideas among national and international scientists and professionals involved. The focus area of the conference will address some of the crucial and contemporary issues on NHP related to their promotion and development with international coordination in exploring their quality, efficacy and safety. For more information, please visit Web site:

April 6-9, 2008

8th Annual Oxford International Conference on the Science of Botanicals. Oxford, MS.

The purpose of the conference is to review, discuss, and explore methods for determining the identity, purity, quality, and processing of plants, commonly known as botanicals. Here, the topics generally include, issues such as authentication, cultivation, collection and post-harvest practices for producing quality plant material and chemical, toxicological methods for quality/safety assessment that lead to the preclinical evaluation of the botanicals. Contributed presentations, both oral and poster, are invited. Each session will open with a plenary speaker outlining the current approaches, limitations, and research needs of the topic area. Speakers will be leading researchers from industry, academia, nonprofit institutions, and government. For more information, please visit Web Site:

May 31 - June 4, 2009

The Society for Economic Botany Annual Conference: Celebrating 50 Years - Join Us


College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA. More information on the conference will be posted in the coming months to the following Web site along with registration information:

June 19-21,2009

9th International Herb Symposium. Norton, MA

For more than just an educational event, the IHS is a joyful celebratory gathering of people who love plants. A symposium to touch your heart and soul as well as mind and spirit, the International Herb Symposium offers herbal enthusiasts and practitioners an incredible opportunity to learn from the world’s leading experts in botanical medicine. Whether a novice or advanced in your herbal interests, the Symposium Features a wide variety of classes and sharing experiences to touch every level of your being . For more information please visit Web Site:


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