Ancient medicines find modern uses at SupHerbs farm

By Lin Arison and Dianna Stoll

Plants have been utilized for their medicinal powers since ancient times. Today such plants are shedding their “alternative healing” label, as researchers are analyzing and quantifying their properties, and as more and more allopathic medical doctors are incorporating them into their healing practices. 

 Roni and Peretz Gan run the SupHerbs farm in Zippori, not far from Nazareth. Established in 1986, the company has been cultivating medicinal plants for Israel and for export since 1990.Some of the plants grown here have been used for millennia: hyssop, for example, is mentioned in the Bible and is still employed today, both in cooking (you see it as zaatar in Israeli recipes) and as a folk medicine. Feverfew was employed as a healing plant in Roman times and is still used as an anti-inflammatory. Antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, parasite-fighting, and immune-boosting substances are found in native Israeli plants such as Palestine oak, terebinth, Mediterranean stink bush, chamomile, carob, sage, nettle and marigold.

Peretz and Roni know a great deal about the properties of the plants they are tending. Among them is the extraordinary moringa — sometimes called the “miracle tree” — a fast-growing, drought-resistant plant, native to the Himalayas, so hardy and so packed with nutrients that many are hopeful that it will serve as an important tool to combat malnutrition.

Most of these plants can be procured in one form or another through SupHerbs, which complements its own line of cultivated products with imported plants, including traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs.