Medicinal plants on display in new exhibit at New York Botanical Garden

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Michelle Charlesworth visits the New York Botanical Garden to learn about the medicinal benefits of plants.

At a time when pharmaceuticals are making news about drug addiction and price gouging, there is a story that reminds us that some of the most effective medicines come from nature.

An exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden has nearly two dozen plants and trees on display, and they have chemicals that can cure ailments.

"Twenty-five percent of the prescription medicines you now buy in the United States have a plant base," said Dr. Brian Boom of the New York Botanical Garden.

The tropical Botanical Garden is a great place to be when it's cold, but now it's even more interesting with the exhibition "Wild Medicine in the Tropics."

"Over half the number of people in the world rely to some extent of their medicines on plants," said Dr. Boom.

It is so odd where a lot of these come from -- one that was used to calm the muscles around the heart came from the poison from darts.

"These poison darts were used for hunting, to shoot monkeys out of the trees, and the effect was not to pierce the heart of the monkey, but rather to get the tip of the poison dart into the monkey's muscle," said Dr. Boom.

The lifesaving parts of these plants come from the leaves or roots or bark. The rosy periwinkle leaves have been used to make chemotherapy to save children all over the world.

The bark of one plant is still used to prevent and treat malaria in a drink similar to a gin and tonic. In other medicinal plants, the roots hold all the magic.

"It's used for treating an enlarged prostate, in fact it's calleld 'Old Man's Friend'," said Dr. Boom.

"Wild Medicine In the Tropics" runs through Feb 25.

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