Thursday, September 13, 2012

Your Backyard Woods - Alternative sources of income - Medicinals

Your backyard woods may contain plants that can be used for medicinal purposes. You can harvest naturally growing plants or grow them in your woods.
A broadleaf woods is best for growing medicinal plants. Selecting medicinal plants that are native to your location makes your work easier and more productive. In ideal situations, cultivation requires minimum disturbance of the area. Unwanted plants are removed and seeds or seedlings are planted. In other situations, underbrush and weedy plants are removed, and the ground is worked into beds with hand tools, rototiller, or tractor, and then planted. The type of cultivation you choose depends on your growing conditions.
To be marketed as medicinals, plant products first must be proven safe and effective according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. About 25 percent of all prescription medicines used in the United States contain active ingredients extracted from plants. Plants and plant products that do not meet the strictest FDA standards or have not been tested, but are believed to have medicinal benefits, are marketed as dietary supplements in the United States. These products are legally considered food items, and product labels cannot make claims about their medicinal benefits. More than 25 tree species, 65 herbaceous plants, and 29 shrubs have been listed by the U.S. Pharmacopoeia for their medicinal value and are marketed as dietary supplements.

By far, medicinal and dietary supplements are the most valuable segment of the special forest product market.Between $7 billion and $8 billion is the estimated value of the worldwide market, and some estimates go as high as $14 billion annually. Europe is the largest market for these products, representing one-half of the worldwide demand.

The future markets for these products appear prosperous. There is a dramatic increase in demand for natural products, including a growing interest in alternative medicines. Many of the most popular dietary supplements are overharvested in woodlands. For example, some of the most profitable plants (ginseng and goldenseal) are in short supply. Both ginseng and goldenseal can be cultivated in your backyard woods, provided you have the right conditions—broadleaf trees on north- and east-facing slopes. Both plants need deep well-drained soils with high organic matter content and partial shade for goldenseal to high shade for ginseng. If you like gardening, are patient, and also appreciate learning by trial and error, the personal and financial rewards from growing medicinal plants can be exceptional.
You can find plant identification books at the library or bookstore to help you identify medicinal plants that are in your backyard woods.

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