|Student Research Project |
The use of medicinal plants in Grenada today
Major: Biology and French
Future Plans: Medical school
Elizabeth Fortson Wells, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
In Monique's research project, her father visited their native Caribbean island country of Grenada during the summer of 1994 with a tape recorder, notebook, and plant-collecting gear. He gathered information from friends and relatives about the plants they themselves or others used as folk remedies - the ailments each plant is used to treat, how the plant is prepared, and by what common name the plant is known. He collected specimens of the plants with the aid of his source persons. Monique pressed and dried the specimens the day her father returned from Grenada and is now identifying them by their Latin names, with the aid of several regional floras and books on medicinal plants. Many of Monique's plants have been recorded in the medicinal literature for other countries of Middle America and the Caribbean.
The National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute (NCI) has begun a major national initiative to discover novel anti-HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) agents from natural sources. With the collaboration of dedicated researchers and institutions around the world - ethnobotanists, horticulturalists, botanical gardens, universities, and governments of countries where conservation "hot spots" are located - five compounds that are potential anti-AIDS drugs have been discovered. All five compounds are derived from plant sources, and four of them are from rain forests in various tropical countries. Monique's research will document the folk remedies of Grenada, some for the first time, and will reveal whether the people of Grenada have remarkable folk remedies with antibacterial, antiviral, or antitumor properties.