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MEDICINAL GARDEN GETS TEMPLE HEALTH SCIENCE STUDENTS BACK TO THEIR ROOTS
July 19, 2011
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At a recent community open house event for the Health Sciences Campus' new medicinal garden, third-year pharmacy student Jordann Jordan explains how a plant can help heal the body. Children from Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the Helping Energize and Rebuild Ourselves (H.E.R.O) Community Center and a local day care center attended and learned how plants grow. Photo by Joseph Labolito, Temple University.
For more than 4,000 years, humans have identified and used the medicinal properties in plants to heal a variety of health issues, from headaches to foot pain. Even today, looking in your own medicine cabinet can be like looking in your garden — some of the most common pharmaceuticals have their origins in plant life.
Students at Temple's Health Sciences Center are learning about that first hand by rolling up their sleeves and working in the new Temple University Health Sciences Medicinal Garden, located at the corner of Broad and Venango Streets.
Planted in the shadow of the Medical Education and Research Building, the parenthesis-shaped garden features several plants with medicinal purposes, which project coordinator Leda Ramoz hopes will teach future health practitioners about the natural origins of medicine.
"If we know the origins of the therapies we'll be giving our patients, it can help us be better health care providers," said Ramoz, a second-year pharmacy student. "Many people don't realize there is the danger for drug to drug interaction, even when taking an all-natural or herbal supplement. It can help us provide better information."
In addition, the garden also contains planters with edibles such as tomatoes, basil and cucumbers, which community members are free to take at will as they pass by.
"There is certainly a medicinal focus to the garden," said Ramoz, "but at the same time, we are committed to promoting health and wellness in the community. There is a real shortage of healthy food options in North Philly, so we wanted to show our neighbors how easy it is to grow their own healthy food, even in an urban environment."
Started by third-year medical student Will Shapiro, the Temple University Health Sciences Medicinal Garden Alliance comprises students from the various health sciences schools who oversee the garden, as well as faculty members from both the Health Sciences and Ambler campuses — many of the plants were donated from their personal gardens.
Recently the group held a community open house at the site, and Ramoz says there was a strong positive response.
"When we started planting, there was interest just from passers-by, wondering what we were doing," she said. "When we opened up the garden, we had about 75 people come and learn about the different plants. Three children's groups came, and we taught them about seed germination and how things grow."
Ramoz credits the success of the garden to grants from the medical school alumni board and the American Medical Student Association, as well as donations from medical and pharmacy school alumni.
This is Temple's most recent foray into exploring complementary and alternative medicine. Others include:
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