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Metal Herbs
before March 9, 2006


The scientists from several science and research institutions of Moscow and Vitebsk and from RAS Tsytsyn Central Botanic Garden have identified metal and iodine concentrating plants among medicinal herbs. These plants extract these elements from soil.

The researchers have examined 52 species of plants, collected in field or cultivated on production areas of All-Russian Institute of Medicinal and Scent Herbs located in Moscow region. Plant parts, usually used in medicine (roots, leaves, bark or fruits), were burnt to ashes and then various elements’ concentration was measured. If element concentration was several times higher than average concentration, common for other plants of this region, the plant was considered to be a moderate concentrator, if it was 10-100 times higher, then the plant was a hyper concentrator.

There were lots of concentrators, and much less hyper concentrators. Most of species accumulate chrome – ten. Low cudweed (Gnaphalium uliginosum) ranks first – its roots contain 8.4 mcg/g of ashes, which 56 times exceeds its average value. The same plant is the only copper hyper concentrator among examined plants, and it also accumulates iron – 2300 mcg/g of ashes, exceeding average level 23 times. The scientists have found three iron hyper concentrators, four manganese hyper concentrators (the highest concentration was detected in cowberry leaves and blackberry berries) and five cobalt hyper concentrators (Maak bird cherry accumulates 25 average concentrations and bird cherry - 23).

Besides abovementioned elements some plant species accumulate overdoses of heavy metals, lead and cadmium, and also iodine. Grey alder (Alnus incana) turned out to be iodine hyper concentrator. Iodine concentration in its buttons reached 54 mcg/g of ashes, which is 340 times higher than average one. Alder stems appear to contain 4.6 times more iodine than laminaria, the most well-known iodine concentrator. The researchers think that grey alder can be recommended as possible source of iodine for those, who lack it, and may be as recovery for soils, that are contaminated with iodine isotopes.

Scientists also consider blackberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) berries and Himalayan may apple roots to be heavy metal hyper concentrators, where lead content exceeds average concentration 16 and 64 times with 47.7 and 192 mcg/g of ashes respectively. And low cudweed (Gnaphalium uliginosum) has 4.5 mcg cadmium/g of ashes, which is 15 times higher than average value.

According to the authors previously unknown element (and element group) hyper concentrator species can be used in medicine for disease prevention and therapy, caused by microelements’ disbalance in human organisms.

Such plants have a chance to act like natural soil purifiers, extracting heavy metals from soil, when cultivated on contaminated areas.

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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