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January 23, 2008

Ethnobotanical studies program at FSU continues to blossom

FROSTBURG - Activities at the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical studies housed at Frostburg State University have grown since the program was initiated four years ago.

The collaboration between FSU, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and West Virginia University is advancing studies of plants in central Appalachia that will contribute new knowledge to the field of medicine. The program is designed to expand opportunities to cultivate, harvest and market herbal remedies available in the area.

"Our vision is becoming a reality," said Jennie Hunter-Cevera, UMBI's president. "The positive partnership between FSU, WVU and UMBI enables the leveraging of our resources to obtain financial support and create more visibility and appreciation for ethnobotanical studies."

The center has U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to study the use of black cohosh in alleviating menopausal symptoms and to examine the application of ironweed in the treatment of breast cancer.

Jim McGraw, a center researcher at WVU, was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to fund his work on wild ginseng.

FSU faculty are collaborating with faculty from the Tai Sophia Institute in Columbia in the analysis of Glechoma hederacea, a type of ground ivy.

Sunshine Brosi, program coordinator of FSU's ethnobotany program, is teaching an ethnographic field techniques course that will allow students to research maple syrup production in Western Maryland and the potential impact of acid deposition on sap production.

The projects support the ACES' missions of studying and preserving Appalachian plants and their related culture and fostering regional economic growth through the sustainable development of the area's natural resources.

ACES has sponsored a number of community outreach programs related to plant harvesting and herbal medicine. The next symposium will discuss the potential regulation of herbal medicines, which have a global market value of more than $22 billion per year, from a number of different perspectives. It is scheduled for May 21 at the UMBI Shady Grove campus.

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