Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pharmecuticals from Papaya

This is a good follow up to the previous article and covers horticulture and pharmecuticals. No, the concept is not new........far from it in fact as most older remedies were derived from plants, but mostly by collection in situ as needed from the relevant plant.

In recent times, a major development has been the production of artemesin for malaria control, based on the plant Artemesia spp. And of course, quinine, that older remedy is also plant derived. There are many other examples.

There is a common quip that Australia's only commercially successful horticultural plant is the macadamia nut, which is actually a native plant from Australia. However, there has been a long time Australian remedy that stands alongside the commonly used Australian tea tree and eucalyptus oils.

Often more well known in the tropics, and being Brisbane based that is not surprising. So do not forget the well known pawpaw ointment / cream.

The following article offers a good overview of pawpaw ointment. And yes, it is used in our household too!

Fortune grows on pawpaw trees

IT'S the cure-all product that is a favourite of stars and celebrities across the globe.
Cate Blanchett, Miranda Kerr and Rose Byrne are never caught short without the distinctive $5 red tube.
An ever-growing legion of fans claim it heals all kinds of ailments, including boils, burns, mosquito bites, sunburn, cuts, chapped lips and cracked skin.

Little do they know the century-old tropical remedy, Lucas' Papaw Ointment, is the product of a Brisbane family. Its secret formula has been passed from generation to generation in the Lucas and Talbot clans.

Kevin Talbot, a 74-year-old fourth-generation producer, now heads the operation.

He is fiercely proud of his family business and just as protective.

As he stood in the Acacia Ridge factory on Beaudesert Road, where his daughter Lynette, son-in-law David and son Graham also work, tears welled in his eyes when he spoke of the family firm.
"We're so proud. It's amazing," he said.
"Lucas Papaw has more than a cult following now. Everyone wants it."

The grandfather-of-three laughed at suggestions the small red tube, synonymous with the ointment, has become a fashion statement for celebrities and women in Australia and across the world.
The reason for its popularity, he said, is the natural virtues of the pawpaw.
"It just works," he said. Mr Talbot's great-grandfather, English surgeon and botanist Thomas Pennington Lucas, discovered the healing capabilities of the pawpaw upon migrating to Australia in 1876. "He thought they were doing too many operations in England and he wanted to find an alternative," Mr Talbot said.

It was in the Sunshine State where he perfected the formula for the fermented papayate ointment.

The Queenslander-style house pictured on the red packaging is in fact Dr Lucas' Vera Papaw Hospital, built on the corner of Moray and Sydney Streets in New Farm. "Here patients were treated only with Dr Lucas' pawpaw remedies, which at the time included throat lozenges," Mr Talbot said.
It became impossible for the family to continue Dr Lucas' work in the special hospital once he passed away. "But it was possible to make it available for public benefit," Mr Talbot said.

Bickfords Australia was the first company to distribute the ointment, before it gained worldwide attention.

Although not all tradition has been lost.

"We still peel the pawpaws by hand," Mr Talbot said.

The factory, steeped in history, stands on land near Dr Lucas' first Acacia Ridge pawpaw plantation.
The enamelled cast iron bowl used to mix the ointment by hand when Mr Talbot's mother ran the business from a wooden hut, since replaced by the factory, still sits in the warehouse.

"I hope to pass this business to my grandchildren," Mr Talbot said.

Meanwhile he is content mixing papayate just as generations before him have.

[partially sourced fro the online edition Qld Country Life]

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Queen Garnet Plum Variety has Extra Nutrition

This post follows on quite well from the previous one, and does provide some answers as to why, and what can be the fantastic outcomes from agricultural research and development.

There is no doubt that for urbanised populations, the role of the nutracetical is a rising issue. Eat well and combat all sorts of issues from vitamin depletion to avoiding cancer to increased libido......nutraceticals offer hope, at a price.

Why shouldn't agriculture also join this group? There is already at least one publicly listed company here in Australia in a quest for market development with a strong nutracetical product, based on agricultural wastes. Doesn't a new fresh plum offer something a bit special? Eat fresh fruit and become extra healthy too?

This current new fruit tree has some serious potential. And yes, as someone has already observed, it will be grown overseas too. Just that this needs to be better managed to gain maximise potential for Australia. But in reality, barriers to entry sometimes make growing food nearer the market desirable, not to mention the seasonality of production for the fresh market, and that particular niche is very, and increasingly, important in some regions........that bogy of "food miles" can suface, and derail marketing. So why not develop production close to the market??

This is a VERY interesting new fruit variety, and the push to rapidly develop adequate fruit supplies will be vital in reaching a critical mass for marketing purposes. An area that often can be the failure point for new varieties, especially for slower developing tree fruits.

Partner for queen of plums given thumbs up

A commercial agreement has just been signed for a plum bred by Queensland scientists that could help fight the effects of aging and lifestyle diseases.

The Bligh Government has partnered with Nutrafruit Pty Ltd to see the Queen Garnet plum produced as a high-antioxidant fresh fruit variety and as a nutraceutical ingredient.

Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Tim Mulherin said the plum’s major drawcard was its high levels of anthocyanin-the antioxidant responsible for giving the fruit its rich, garnet-red colour. “Researchers have determined that one glass of Queen Garnet plum juice contains as much antioxidants as drinking two small glasses of red wine, six cups of tea or 12 glasses of orange juice,” Mr Mulherin said. “Research suggests that high levels of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, can help reduce the inflammation that is an underlying cause of certain cancers, heart disease and neurological degenerative disorders.
“The compounds have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth in several studies overseas."
“Anthocyanin levels are two to five times higher in Queen Garnet than other red-flesh plums, and between 10 and 30 times higher than in yellow plums.”

Nutrafruit director Hugh Macintosh said apart from investing in research into the health benefits of the plum, the company had other big plans for the fruit. “We are looking at processing the plum as a high-antioxidant ingredient for health drinks and related products, and as other nutraceuticals, such as vitamin tablets,” Mr Macintosh said. “Because the fresh plum is currently only available for about one month on the market, processing it into a range of health products would allow a year-round supply. “It also opens up export options to markets, which currently have trade restrictions on stone fruit, but not on processed products." “We’re currently conducting a small trial on ready-to-drink Queen Garnet juice products and our ultimate plan is to get the juice products into large chain and health-food stores."

Department of Environment Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) principal experimentalist Dougal Russell said researchers were continuing work on other healthy plum breeding lines, as the commercial agreement with Nutrafruit extended to include collaborations through future research.

“Our breeding program here in Queensland is in a selection phase where we are identifying other new high-anthocyanin plums,” Mr Russell said. “The aim is to increase the harvest window by developing a suite of high-antioxidant fresh-market and processing plum varieties that ripen from December through to March. “Queen Garnet is a plum that can be multiplied and grown in an orchard easily rather than hiking around a mountain in the Andes picking berries. “Growing Queen Garnet fruit for processing also has many advantages for primary producers." “There are no grading or sorting issues and little waste – 95 per cent or more of the crop will be used, against 60 to 70 per cent when growing for first-grade quality." “Fruit can also be frozen and processed when more convenient.”

There are currently 13,000 to 14,000 Queen Garnet plum trees dedicated for juice production planted around Australia and the same amount is expected to be planted in June/July this year, with a further 60,000 trees to be planted in 2011.

The fruit will also be grown offshore, with growers in Spain negotiating to produce process-quality fruit.

In addition to its high-antioxidant levels, Queen Garnet is known to have a delicious taste, with excellent size, colour and flavour, and it stores extremely well.

Some limited volumes of fresh fruit will be available in markets in 2011.

Nutrafruit is currently in negotiations with companies in New Zealand, South Africa, France and the United States interested in establishing fresh market production of Queen Garnet.

For more information on DEEDI’s fruit and vegetable breeding programs, visit au and click on ‘Agriculture, Fisheries and Food’ in the ‘Innovation’ box.

[ partially sourced from on-line resources of Qld Country Life and QDEEDI]