A New Age of Medicinal Plants
By Dave Harrison
Our recent webinar outlining the emerging business opportunities related to the move to legalize large-scale marijuana cultivation drew considerable interest.
The number of viewers eclipsed any of our previous webinars, and the questions directed to industry expert Michael Camplin and his colleagues at GGS Structures were drawn from throughout North America and overseas.
The Q&A session could easily have extended well into a second hour or so, if only we had that time available.
Clearly the growth of marijuana as a new crop alternative is attracting considerable attention and investment worldwide, but especially here in North America.
But it’s only the start of a new wave of interest in greenhouse cultivation. There’s indeed a bright future ahead for industry suppliers, growers, crop specialists and horticulture students.
A few years ago, few people would have foreseen the emerging growth of urban agriculture, especially projects based on greenhouse crops. That trend is well underway.
What commercial marijuana cultivation does is open the industry to a new round of investment interest, beyond the cannabis option. It’s the whole issue of new medicinal crops, those that can be finely tuned in greenhouses for health care applications.
A great many plants have amazing medicinal properties, and researchers are showing interest in them. One of the latest cases in point is horseradish, which contains cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates. As noted in a recent news release, “the humble horseradish may not be much to look at, but a recent University of Illinois study shows that it contains compounds that could help detoxify and eliminate cancer-
causing free radicals in the body.”
The release was issued by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. “We knew horseradish had health benefits, but in this study, we were able to link it to the activation of certain detoxifying enzymes for the first time,” noted crop scientist Mosbah Kushad.
His team had previously identified and quantified the levels of glucosinolates in horseradish, finding it contains about 10 times more glucosinolates “than its superfood cousin, broccoli.”
(If parents have a hard time telling their kids to eat their broccoli “because it’s good for you,” it’s going to be an even harder sell in telling them to add horseradish to their meals for the same reason.)
This is just an example of a potential medicinal crop. Field horseradish production would be much cheaper, but greenhouses allow growers to provide the right mix of nutrients, light, shading, temperature, humidity, insect exclusion, etc., to create plants with the exact compounds proven to be most beneficial, and to replicate those results crop after crop.
This is what medicinal marijuana producers are now doing, to exacting Health Canada standards, with great success.
There will soon be a new wave of medicinal plants being grown commercially in greenhouses, and that interest will be spurred by the success of the medicinal marijuana sector.