Officinal Plants Section
An abundance of plants possess useful ingredients that are of central importance for human nutrition, medicine, craftsmanship, technology, etc. With the exception of table salt, all spices and a large part of the remedies used today are plant products. Externally the effect of the plant cannot be seen, since the chemical ingredients are what counts. In this section, the species are grouped according to their main constituents and their resulting uses. The proportion of plant species containing toxic substances is particularly high here (red label color): in particular, the active substances of many medicinal plants already have a toxic effect in slightly increased doses, because the dose and method of preparation of the herbal drug determine whether the effect is healing or toxic. The term "officinal" refers to a medicinal use, but the term is traditionally extended to plants whose chemical ingredients are used.
The importance of medicinal plants in human history can be traced back thousands of years, when such use was first documented. The oldest such document, Papyrus Ebers, comes from Egypt around 1550 B.C. and is a collection of medicinal recipies with descriptions of the remedies, their preparation, and dosage. Additionally, the herb books of the 16th century were an important source for plant knowledge in the centuries to follow, and the many monastic gardens, where mostly medicinal plants were cultivated, can be seen as the predecessors of today’s botanical gardens such as the one in Rostock.