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Extracting Medical Lessons from the Greek Past

herbal productsAn event entitled “Aromatic and medicinal plants as a means of perpetual development in the country” took place Tuesday, September 16, under the auspices of the Greek National Organization of Medicines and the University of Athens.
The Organization’s president, Dimitris Lintzeris, argued that Greece could use its wealth of native fauna to bolster its economic recovery. Greece grows nearly 40% of the medicinal plants used in Europe, though the country produces and exports relatively few herbal remedies.
According to the meeting, even Greece’s production of aromatic herbs is startingly small—exploiting just 0.05% of arable land. Lintzeris said that Greece has the capability of taking on a leading role in the preparation of plant extracts, herbal medicines, cosmetics and food supplements. Other attendees elaborated on this lost investment opportunity. Medicinal plants are in high demand in the large, emerging markets of Russia, China and India.
Speaking at the conference, Paraskevas Koukoulopoulos, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Rural Develoment, said that a new institutional framework creates conditions suitable for the development of a national registry of aromatic and medicinal plants. He also stressed that new agricultural policies are paving the way for great development in this industry.
In fact, Greece has a long history of exploiting its plant life for medical uses. One topic of discussion at the conference centered on a major multinational pharmaceutical company’s attempt to identify the herbal medicines used in Homer’s Odyssey. The ancient poet speaks of poisonous herbs, painkillers and various ointments that impact the psyche. Scientists in India, meanwhile, are funding research to determine if any of Hippocrates’ treatments still retain uses today.

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