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Presentation on Plant Constituents

Local herbalists and other herb enthusiasts gathered in the American Botanical Council’s education annex on June 2, 2004, for a presentation by Lisa Ganora, herbalist and botanist, on “Plant Constituents: Supportive Science for Traditional Herbal Medicine.” Ganora’s presentation covered the most important chemical constituents in the most commonly used botanicals in the United States, and it included beautiful graphic representations of both the constituents and the plants themselves. Her ability to explain what might be considered by some to be difficult or dry concepts, coupled with her colorful self-produced graphics, made for a very appealing, well-received presentation. Some attendees expressed their gratitude for a presentation that made real for them, on a visual level, concepts that they had not clearly understood previously.

In addition to studying the scientific basis of herbs, Ganora presented an organoleptic approach to learning about herbs; smelling, touching and tasting, when appropriate, providing an added dimension to one’s understanding of the plants. Graphic representations of how to recognize antioxidant chemicals in the plants were also presented. For example, red pigment indicates the presence of lycopenes as in tomatoes and watermelon, and blue indicates anthocyanins as in blueberries. In addition to covering the major categories of chemical constituents (e.g., lipids, amino acids and derivatives, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, steroids, alkaloids, and inulins), Ganora addressed topics like synergy, the idea that a phytochemical isolated from the plant may not act as the whole plant would. She also talked about the dynamics of living plants and how they are affected by emergent behavior, adaptation to the environment, genetic influence, and the thousands of chemicals they contain.

Ganora, who is a professional member of ABC, graduated Summa cum laude with Distinction as a University Scholar and with Distinction in Biology from the University of North Carolina in Asheville and has received a number of awards in the field of biology and organic chemistry. ABC is very grateful to her for stopping in Austin to share her interesting perspective and beautiful presentation on herbs while traveling from the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine in Bisbee, AZ, to the “Medicines from the Earth” conference in Black Mountain, NC. To view examples from Ganora’s PowerPoint presentation or to purchase her programs, visit