Spices and Medicine


UCL at the British Medical Association: Open Squares Weekend, 18th June

Date: Saturday 18 June 2016

Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Location: The British Medical Association Headquarters, Tavistock Square, London.

Presented by the British Medical Association in collaboration with UCL and the Charles Dickens Museum London, this full day programme of events will engage members of the public with activities and lectures on various aspects of herbal regulation and botanical medicines, as well as tours of the BMA's medicinal garden. 

Click here for the official flyer and full programme.

UCL Presentations:

1:00 - 1:40 PM 'Medicinal Plants and the Mind'

Presented by Professor Michael Heinrich, University College London

Medicinal plants are commonly used to treat conditions such as sleeplessness, mild mood problems, nervousness and other problems. If used for minor self-limiting conditions such herbal medical products may offer useful treatment options. The evidence for therapeutic benefits of herbal medicines such as St John's Wort and valerian will be explored.

2:00 - 2:40 PM 'Fever Trees and Food of the Gods'

Presented by Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Professor Michael Heinrich; University College London

The history of botanical medicines will be explored in this fascinating presentation. We will look at the politics surrounding the use of 'fever tree' Cinchona bark to treat malaria in the 17th century, how chocolate, the 'food of the gods', was popularised as medical treatment by Sir Hans Sloane and the Cadbury brothers in Bloomsbury, and the (mis)use of opium and its derivatives in Charles Dickens' London.

3:00 - 3:40 PM 'The Quality and Safety of Herbal Medicines and Supplements'

Presented by Dr Anthony Booker, Professor Michael Heinrich; University College London

The regulation and quality and safety of herbal medicinal products will be discussed in this presentation. Research highlighting problems in the manufacturing and supply chain which can lead to poor quality and adulteration of products will be explored and the latest thinking on strategies to improve the quality of food supplements will be presented.

Throughout the Day: 

The Garden of Mindfulness and Wellbeing

Presented by Carol Stuart, Yoga and Wellbeing Teacher

The garden can be a therapeutic place of peaceful relaxation and reflection. Throughout the day we will provide guests with a unique opportunity to explore the concept of mindfulness through a number of activities in and around the garden. These will include the opportunity to participate in or chat about relaxation techniques, guided meditation, and simple yoga and breathing exercises that can be incorporated into our busy lives or to compliment the care for patients.

At home with Charles Dickens: Life at Tavistock House, 1851-1860

Presented by the Charles Dickens Museum, London

For those with literary interests, the garden is built on the site of Tavistock House, once the home of Charles Dickens. There is a plaque marking the foundations of the house in which Dickens lived from 1851 to 1860. Here, he wrote Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities. He also staged amateur theatricals in the converted nursery - famously titled 'the smallest theatre in the world!'. Throughout the day, the Dickens Museum team will be on hand to speak with guests about his life while living in Tavistock House, and this garden which he wrote about in his books.

Gardens for Improved Health

Presented by Lambeth GP Food Co-op

Lambeth GP Food Co-op was voted Best Sustainable Food Initiative by Public Health England and NHS Sustainability Unit in 2013. They build gardens in GP surgeries, and create safe spaces for people with long term health needs to meet other people and learn to grow food together. This initiative contributes to improving the health and wellbeing of local people as well as reducing social isolation and loneliness. Throughout the day, members will be onsite to discuss their work.