Medicinal Plants Garden presents many plants used in traditional medicine
by Damla Kayayerli
ISTANBULMay 18, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Damla Kayayerli
May 18, 2015 12:00 am
Opened 10 years ago in order to enable people to learn more about the plants that are used in traditional medicine, the Medicinal Plants Garden in Zeytinburnu hosts 800 medicinal plants on 68 plots. The garden is currently hosting the Merkezefendi Traditional Medicine Festival, which will run until May 22 and is free of charge
The kingdom of plants is one of enormous variety and color. Many plants have benefits that many of us are not even aware of, and those who are aware, may never have seen fresh plants. However, the situation is more serious for children who grow up in cities. Many children today grow up not knowing about the life-cycle of plants, let alone their benefits. The Zeytinburnu Medicinal Plants Garden in Istanbul opened its doors 10 years ago to make up for this exact knowledge deficit. The garden, which is the first medicinal plant garden in Turkey, enables people to learn more about the plants that are used in traditional medicine and see the fresh plants that we buy from the herbalists in ground and powdered form. Initiated by the Zeytinburnu Municipality and Merkezefendi Traditional Medicine Association to raise awareness of the ecosystem, the garden hosts seeds that are brought from all over Turkey and the saplings are planted over a 1.4 hectare area grown with care. The plants grow organically without being exposed to any agricultural pesticides. Moreover, the garden's greenhouse is home to more than 60 plant species that are grown in a tropical climate, from bananas to avocados.
800 medicinal plants
While only 300 plant species were grown in the garden when it was first opened, the garden now hosts 800 medicinal plants in 68 plots. Many plants such as fennel, purple coneflower, balsam apple, anise, linseed, salvia, nigella sativa and sweet william have found their place in the garden, which is reminiscent of a medicinal plants museum. Senior biologist Tuğçe Ağba discussed the association's aims with the garden. "We introduce medicinal plants to people and inform them about the treatments they are used for. For example, we use the roots of ginger, which remain under the soil. But what kind of plant is the upper part of ginger? Is the Melissa we buy from the herbalists real or is it just lemongrass? We have both in our garden. We explain the differences between them and teach people about medicinal plant culture," Ağba said. She added that the number of visitors increases during spring and summer, with 3,000 people visiting the garden every week. "We have visitors from different age groups, including kindergarden children, university students, housewives and academics. The garden, which displays 800 fresh plants, is like a plant museum," the senior biologist underscored.
Workshops for children
Various activities are held in the garden. This includes 200 workshops focusing on topics such as scent therapy, massage, the traditional use of medicinal plants, natural jam making, pickle and bread making, natural drugs and natural living workshops. Ağba said they also organize workshops for children enabling them to touch the soil and get closer to nature. "We introduce children to nature. Even university students come here and plant saplings with us. After they plant saplings in flowerpots, we teach them how to do it in their homes," she said. The garden hosts the Merkezefendi Traditional Medicine Festival every year, and last Saturday, the 16th year of the festival began with the distribution of mesir paste. To introduce and learn more about traditional medicine and medicinal plants, separate workshops are held for children and adults. The festival will run until May 22 and is free of charge.
Which plant is good for what?
English mint oil
English mint oil is ideal for headaches and migraines. As it has pain-killing properties, take a drop of the oil, and massage it on your forehead to ease your headache. This oil is recommended as a substitute for pain killers.
Oil of thyme
There are 40 different types of thyme, such as thyme of Istanbul and thyme of İzmir. As it has anti-bacterial properties, you can help protect your children from getting the flu by dripping a drop of this oil on the collar of his or her uniform before going to school. Thyme oil is also recommended in treating ringworm in feet.
Ottoman strawberry, which is grown in Anatolia, is used to whiten teeth. As it is rich in vitamin B, it is also recommended for children.
The most important feature of pelargonium is that it helps people focus. If you place a drop of this oil on a piece of cotton in a room with children who are studying for exams, the oil will help them concentrate.
The tree that produces Turkish sweetgum can only be found in Turkey. The bark of the tree releases a substance called amber. As amber is used for cosmetics and perfumes, the French seek out the tree.
The real Melissa has feathered leaves in the shape of a heart and it smells like lemon. When you apply its leaves or oil on cold sores caused by the Herpes simplex virus, it reduces the symptoms. As it relaxes people and helps them sleep, it is best to drink as tea before going to bed.
This plant is also known as the American Indians' plant. It is used as a solution for the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections and skin problems.