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Flower power is back!

21 January 2013

Flower power is back!

Flowers have always been used in traditional remedies but now they are being used to treat conditions such as depression, insomnia and even cancer.


This has been traditionally used as a pain killer, to treat headaches and as an antidote to poison.  Reminyl, which is used to treat mild dementia, contains galantamine – a compound found in snowdrop bulbs.  It helps to increase levels of a brain chemical involved in the transmission of messages.

Dr Melanie-Jayne Howes of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said, “Galantamine was originally tested for use in conditions such as eye, gastric and heart disorders.  It wasn’t until the Eighties that it was explored for potential benefits in dementia.”


The flower has been used as a remedy for indigestion, pain, poor concentration, asthma and rheumatism. Nowadays Saffron, which gets its colour from Crosin, is being tested on
toothache and age-related eye conditions. In trials, saffron has shown to improve mental functioning in Alzheimer’s patients.

Dr Howes said, “Saffron is expensive and research is needed to see if it has advantages over cheaper plants that have similar effects.”


Lavender has traditionally been used as a sedative, relaxant and anti-depressant.  Oil from the plants has been shown to help with insomnia, alopecia, anxiety, stress and post-operative pain.  Trials have shown that it can improve mood and, when given to adults with anxiety disorder, it was as effective as the drug lorazepam.


This plant has been widely used to treat anxiety, forgetfulness, insomnia and restlessness.  Modern research has shown that it can have protective effects on brain cells, with participants showing greater recall and fewer mistakes in memory tests.


The yellow flower has been used traditionally to induce vomiting and as a poultice for burns and wounds.  Similar to crocuses, a daffodil bulb contains a source of galantamine, but it also contains compounds that can get through the blood-brain barrier – a semi-permeable barrier which blocks some substances entering the brain.  A Chinese study has suggested that daffodil compounds could kill off certain cancer cells.