Diana Beresford-Kroeger

I just read “Advocating an Unusual Role for Trees” about the intriguing and pioneering scientist Diana Beresford-Kroeger (written by Jim Robbins and published on NYTimes.com on August 11, 2008).

I was drawn to this article partly because of my newfound appreciation for trees due to reading Richard Preston’s The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring (click here to read all my posts on that book).

Born in Ireland and currently working at the University of Ottawa school of medicine, Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist, agricultural and medical researcher, lecturer, and self-described “renegade scientist” in the fields of classical botany, medical biochemistry, organic chemistry, and nuclear chemistry.

Here’s an excerpt from the NYTimes.com article:

She calls herself a renegade scientist, however, because she tries to bring together aboriginal healing, Western medicine and botany to advocate an unusual role for trees.

She favors what she terms a bioplan, reforesting cities and rural areas with trees according to the medicinal, environmental, nutritional, pesticidal and herbicidal properties she claims for them, which she calls ecofunctions.

But some of Ms. Beresford-Kroeger’s claims for the health effects of trees reach far outside the mainstream. Although some compounds found in trees do have medicinal properties and are the subject of research and treatment, she jumps beyond the evidence to say they also affect human health in their natural forms. The black walnut, for example, contains limonene, which is found in citrus fruit and elsewhere and has been shown to have anticancer effects in some studies of laboratory animals. Ms. Beresford-Kroeger has suggested, without evidence, that limonene inhaled in aerosol form by humans will help prevent cancer.

Sounds a little crazy, and definitely lacking hard scientific proof, but it could be true! After all, studies have not been done to study the effects on humans due to natural ambient compounds from trees.

And that Miriam Rothschild, an eccentric home-schooled British naturalist whom I greatly admire, “wrote glowingly of Ms. Beresford-Kroeger’s idea of bioplanning and called it ‘one answer to ‘Silent Spring” because it uses natural chemicals rather than synthetic ones” makes me even more interested in Beresford-Kroeger work.

Beresford-Kroeger is also the author of several books, all of which I’d like to take a look at:

I will have to see if my local library carries any of these!

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