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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2 (2005), Issue 4, Pages 549-556
Original Article

Fertilization-Induced Changes in Growth Parameters and Antioxidant Activity of Medicinal Plants Used in Traditional Arab Medicine

1The Galilee Society R&D Center (Associated with Haifa University), PO Box 437, Shefa-Amr 20200, Israel
2Department of Pharmacology, Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-ITT, Haifa, Israel
3Faculty of Food and Biotechnology, Technion-ITT, Haifa, Israel

Received 24 March 2005; Accepted 26 September 2005

Copyright © 2005 Hassan Azaizeh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In response to increased popularity and greater demand for medicinal plants, a number of conservation groups are recommending that wild medicinal plants be brought into cultivation systems. We collected four medicinal herbs Cichorium pumilum, Eryngium creticum, Pistacia palaestina and Teucrium polium used in traditional Arab medicine for greenhouse cultivation to assess the effects of different fertilization regimes on their growth and antioxidant activity. Wild seedlings were collected and fertilized with either 100% Hoagland solution, 50% Hoagland solution, 20% Hoagland solution or irrigated with tap water. Plant height was measured and the number of green leaves and branches counted weekly. Thereafter, the aboveground parts of plants were harvested for preparing a water-soluble powder extracts of which antioxidant activity was measured by their ability to suppress the oxidation of β-carotene. Of the fertilization regimes, we found either 20 or 50% Hoagland solution produced the most consistent response of the plant growth parameters. All powders prepared from the four wild growing plants inhibited oxidation of β-carotene. Increasing the amount of fertilizer caused a significant concentration-dependent increase in antioxidant activity of the cultivated T. polium compared with the wild type. In contrast, increasing the amount of fertilizer caused a significant concentration-dependent reduction in the antioxidant activity of powders prepared from the cultivated E. creticum when compared with wild plants. Our results showed that cultivation success should not rely solely on parameters of growth but should incorporate assessment related to indices of therapeutic potential.