Health-Promoting Effects of Elevated C02 on Medical Plants

By | February 5, 2014

 

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How will the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content alter the amounts and concentrations of various health-promoting substances produced by medicinal or “health food” plants? This question was broached early on by Stuhlfauth et al. (1987), who found that a near-tripling of the air’s CO2 content increased the dry weight production of the woolly foxglove plant (which produces the cardiac glycoside digoxin used in the treatment of cardiac insufficiency) by 63% under dry conditions and by 83% when well-watered, and that the concentration of digoxin within the plant dry mass was enhanced by 11% under well-watered conditions and by 14% under conditions of water stress, after which Stuhlfauth and Fock (1990) obtained similar results in a field study, with a near-tripling of the air’s CO2 content leading to a 75% increase in plant dry weight production per unit land area and a 15% increase in digoxin per unit dry weight of plant material, which resulted in an actual doubling of total digoxin yield per hectare of cultivated land.