plants?! Science is now discovering that humans are in fact more
similar to plants than anyone had ever previously imagined
start with the basic structure of any living organism - the
genome. The genome is a living thing's complete set of genetic
information which it passes on to its children. The human genome
is similar to that of other animals and also to plant genomes.
Both the human genome and plant genomes contain around 25,000
cells, we find that human cells and plant cells contain six
identical organelles or active components which include cell
membranes, mitochondria and the nucleus. The presence of
mitochondria means that both plants and humans have cellular
humans and plants have highly developed immune systems. Humans
have an advantage over plants in that they can run away from
threats whereas plants have to stand and fight. Richard Ulevitch
of the Scripps Research Institute in the U.S.A. has discovered
that plants have a similar response to bacterial infections to
humans. “In reality there are only so many ways to accomplish
related biological responses," he said.
humans and plants absorb food is similar. The human intestine
and fertile soil both contain bacteria and fungi which help them
to be healthy by killing harmful bacteria and breaking down
substances to provide food. In the case of plants, bacteria and
fungi help plants absorb nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. In
the case of humans, they produce vitamins K and B7.
freakier than this are experiments that suggest plants love
their children, can feel afraid and even sense human intentions.
Cleve Backster attached a polygraph or lie detector to the leaf
of a plant. Polygraphs read changes in electrical resistance and
his idea was to time how long it took water poured into the
flower pot to reach the leaf. As the water entered the leaf the
electrical resistance should have dropped but instead it
increased. Backster noticed that the curve on the graph closely
resembled a human state of happiness.
idea was to burn the leaf to see if there was any kind of
response. Just the thought of doing this made the polygraph go
crazy. Apparently the plant was reacting to his intentions. For
the next 35 years Backster conducted many controlled experiments
to research this phenomenon, called the Backster Effect. He
claims that plants can detect and respond to human actions and
scientists accept the validity of Backster’s experiments and
they typically say that his experiments lacked scientific
rigour. That said, his work became part of an international
best-selling book called “The Secret Life of Plants” which was
later made into a documentary of the same name with the
soundtrack composed by Stevie Wonder. A famous supporter of the
Backster Effect is Prince Charles.
Dudley, associate professor of biology at McMaster University in
Hamilton in Canada, has discovered that plants prefer to be near
their children rather than plants of the same species who are
not related to them. "The ability to recognize and favour kin is
common in animals, but this is the first time it has been shown
in plants," says Susan. "When plants share their pots, they get
competitive and start growing more roots, which allows them to
grab water and mineral nutrients before their neighbours get
them. It appears, though, that they only do this when sharing a
pot with unrelated plants; when they share a pot with family
they don't increase their root growth."
sounds great but what practical use does it have? Good question.
the word 'drug' means 'dried plant; more than 40% of all
pharmaceuticals in use in the USA today are derived from plants.
Secondly, salicylic acid is used by trees when they get too hot.
A derivative of this, acetylsalicylic acid, is used by humans to
treat fevers and is generally known as aspirin. The similarities
of human biology and plant biology seem to mean that what works
for a plant, may well work for a human. Humans have co-evolved
with plants and have been eating them and making drinks from
them for a long time. Carbohydrates, fat, minerals, protein and
vitamins are vital to both human and plant life. Antioxidants in
plants protect plant cells from oxidation as well as the cells
of the humans who eat them. Our bodies recognise the substances
that occur in plants, and so are able to metabolise or process
four million child deaths over the past 10 years could have been
prevented if states were able to help the poorest, says Save the
Children. The medicines they need don't reach them. A German
charity called Anamed is now using plants to save people in
Africa. They help villages to cultivate a plant called artemisia
annua which is used against malaria. They also make a tea to
cure diarrhoea caused by amoeba. Diabetics all around the world
are now growing a plant from Paraguay in their gardens and green
houses. Stevia rebaudiana helps the pancreas to moderate blood
sugar levels and so diabetes sufferers don't need to inject
themselves with so much insulin. Inexplicably, the Spanish
government has banned the sale of stevia seeds. The Japanese, on
the other hand, have been using stevia since the early 1970s.
by dandruff? Try a tea tree shampoo. On that note, a Valencian
doctor recenty told me that currently the most money being spent
on medical research is for a cure for baldness in men.
saw a revolution in agriculture with the introduction of
synthetic fertilizers which resulted in harvests four times
bigger. Furthermore, they allow plants to be grown in sterile
soil. Also the plants grow up to five times faster. The problem
with this is that the plants do not have enough time to develop
their immune systems with the result that they need protection
from diseases. In other words, the plants are sprayed with
pesticides and fungicides. Unfortunately, what kills insects
also seems to kill humans. The World Health Organisation says
that 18,000 agricultural workers are killed by pesticides a
year. There is also a lot of scientific evidence linking
pesticides to birth defects and Parkinson's disease. A plant
grown with synthetic fertilizer with have far less nutrients
than a naturally grown one. It will however look more beautiful
and be bigger and have a higher water content. In conclusion, if
we want the plants we eat to help our immune systems it is
better to grow them yourself.
you need is light, some organic compost and some five litre
plastic bottles. Pierce a hole in the bottle top with a sharp
knife and make two holes in the neck of the bottle. Next, cut
the bottle in half. Fill the base with water. Invert the top
half and fill with compost. Plant three lettuce seeds and away
you go. The soil is automatically watered from the base by
capillary action. In 50 days you will have some healthy lettuces
whose leaves will protect you from all your local toxins. Voilà.