Agriculture knowledge

The Unique Medicinal Benefits of Desert Plants

These advantages stem from the desert plants' ability to produce unique materials

The benefits for humanity that can be derived from desert plants are being studied at the R&D center for the central and northern Arava.

These advantages stem from the desert plants’ ability to produce unique materials, which enable them to survive in difficult stress conditions (lack of rain, intense heat, radiation and similar problems). 

Dr. Rivka Ofir hopes that the findings of the research on these plants will assist in the development of medicinal materials to combat diseases.  After testing disease models, those plants containing materials with clear medicinal advantages are acclimated to be grown at the R&D center for the central and northern Arava, while applying a protocol suited to the desert stress conditions.

After seeds of the fragrant Achillea plants were collected from Nachal (stream) Nekarot and planted alongside the cultivated plants in beds at the R&D center, the materials in the ‘cultivated plants’ were compared with those of the ‘desert plants’.  This comparison showed that a significant number of materials are produced only in desert conditions. To further research on these materials plant extracts (cell or organic extracts) are scanned with respect to human disease models. 


Some plants and their extracts indicated promising results:

In the fight against disease fungi in agriculture (fusarium, rhizoctonia, pythium) Artemisia Judaica (wormwood) found in Nachal (stream) Paran in the Arava, Artemisia Sieben (herba-alba) growing mainly in the Negev desert, Pulicaria Icica (Ballota) growing in the gullies of the Arava such as Nachal Shahak, Shezaf, Gidron and others, all offered real possibilities as replacements for hazardous chemical fungicides.

 Where human diseases were concerned the material artemisimin found in Artemisia Sieben (herba-alba) is known to prevent the development of malaria.




Some of plants contain materials effective in combating cancer such as Asteriscus Graveclens (Fragrant star) whose active materials fight against cancer cells of lymphoma and breast cancer by boosting the release of free radicals and running a genetic program for the death of those cells (apoptosis). 

Pulicaria Icica (Ballota) also has materials which kill off cancer cells by implementing a kinetic plan for the death of those cells (apoptosis).
A plant extract of Ephedra Aphyylla, which grows in the Arava and can be found in the vicinity of Menuha Junction, when produced in a special protocol shows it can produce materials, which are able to kill off lymphoma cancer cells.

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