15 May 2013
The nodding yellow flowers of the humble daffodil are a welcome sight after the dreary days of winter. Dementia sufferers have a very different reason for enjoying this springtime display. Daffodils are a natural source of the drug galanthamine, one of the few treatments proven to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Galanthamine slows the breakdown of neurotransmitters – chemicals that carry signals between neurons – leading to improved brain function. Unfortunately, galanthamine is expensive. The best natural sources contain just 0.2% galanthamine and it’s difficult to produce synthetically. Daffodils are thought to produce this chemical as a response to environmental stress, so researchers and farmers in Wales are experimenting with growing the bulbs at high altitude. They hope that creating stressful conditions for the plants will lead to higher drug yields and a brighter outlook for patients.
Written by Sarah McLusky
Narcissus isn’t featured in our new exhibition, Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World. I’m going to chalk it up to the research being so new and cutting edge. But if this topic interests you, there’s plenty on offer in this exciting exhibition spread out throughout the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. ~AR
In June of 2009, a rare total solar eclipse blanketed certain portions of the planet in total darkness. Czech photographer Miloslav Druckmüller traveled to the middle of the Pacific ocean to the Marshall Islands to capture the incredible event.
To create the photos above, he compiled over 40 images shot from two different cameras.