Conservation and health education are at the heart of Dilston. As a registered charity for education our vision is to increase public and educational engagement with the natural world, heighten awareness of the importance of biodiversity and educate on the benefits of medicinal plants to maintain health, in plant medicine and in cutting-edge drug discovery, as well as utilise the 2-acre site as an outdoor space for wellbeing for community groups.
We are strongly focused on raising awareness of plant medicine as an overlooked indispensable knowledge and in helping bridge the gap that has grown between plant medicine and general medicine by raising awareness of the now considerable scientific research that shows the efficacy of plant medicine. Created and directed by a neuroscientist and pharmacognosist, each of the 700 plant species on site has information for the visitor, from the science of how the plant works, to the history of the plants use and including the engaging folklore behind each plant’s use for health. A significant number of the plants growing at Dilston have been clinically proven to be efficacious to treat many common ailments. Over 50 percent of all new drugs come from plants (with over 20 of these growing at Dilston) and are used in general medicine today, like aspirin, morphine and digoxin, from willow, poppy and foxglove.
The health benefits of plants are varied, many edible plants obviously provide essential vitamins and minerals as part of a healthy living diet, but also provide little known of essential phytochemicals that act as preventative agents such as anti-cancers, anti-bacterials, anti-oxidants, anti-flammatories and immune-boosting phytochemicals, as well as using plant medicines that have scientific research to show they help treat common ailments such as insomnia and anxiety, and often with fewer or no side-effects such as addiction.
The general public, community groups, schools, colleges and universities all visit us to learn about the health benefits and medicinal value of plants, and we aim to grow this following and empower the individual by providing information on ways in which their health can be maintained and improved, through our signboards, workshops, courses and our Foundation in Plant Medicine. We have a growing team of volunteers who assist, and benefit from, the physic garden and we also utilised the fact that the environment of Dilston Physic Garden provides a retreat and escape, and has a healing quality in itself.