Medicinal Plants : Gifts of Art Galleries at Michigan Medicine, running from September 7 to December 3, 2021. The gallery is located in the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Laurie and Sarah Tennent are the rare mother and daughter who happily collaborate on projects. Their current one is an art exhibit that combines outstanding images of botanicals with informative details about their healing properties. The women complement each other well. Laurie Tennent is a celebrated photographer and Sarah Tennent is an accomplished acupuncturist who has studied Chinese medicine in China. Their mutual wonder over the healing power of botanicals is at the heart of their collaboration. The women are deeply attuned to botanicals and their potent healing properties. They embrace the concept of biophilia, first mentioned by psychoanalyst Eric Fromm in 1973. He described biophilia as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.” The Tennents' find joy and wonder in nature and want others to have that experience as well.   

“People are missing so much connection with nature. Walking through nature can heal us, food can heal us. The plants we need to heal us are right in front of us,” says Laurie Tennent.  “What we’re really presenting is the essence and energetics of the plant,” explains Sarah Tennent. “That’s where we came together, realizing these images were also healing, and that the energy, almost the personality and spirit of the plant, is captured there.”

Their exhibit promises to help people see nature’s evident beauty and intelligence. 

Turkey Tail Mushroom, Yun Zhi
Trametes Versicolor

  • Plant Family: Polyporaceae
  • Parts Used: fruiting body
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Immunomodulator
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Cancer and chemotherapy support

Turkey tail or cloud mushrooms are distinctly known for their fan-like fruiting body with an array of striping colors. Hence its Latin nomenclature, Trametes Versicolor, meaning “several colors”, ranging from browns to purples and greens. This mushroom is a common polypore mushroom with no gills on its underside, typically found in hardwood deciduous forests. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, turkey tails or Yun Zhi are a symbol of longevity and have been used for centuries as an immunomodulator, boosting immunity and combating pathogens. They have the action of clearing dampness, boosting Qi and strengthening the lung, spleen, and stomach. Turkey tails are high in polysaccharides, like PSK, which have been shown to have tumor fighting properties inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Polysaccharopeptide, PSP, also regulates the gut microbiome balancing various bacteria in the digestive tract.



Gingko, Yin Xing Ye

Gingko biloba

  • Plant Family: Ginkgoaceae
  • Parts Used: leaves 
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties: 
  • Antibacterial, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory
  • Memory enhancing effects and improved brain function
  • Improves asthma and lung capacity
  • Improves circulation, helping the heart & sexual function

Gingko has long been seen as a symbol of longevity. It has been planted in China since ancient times. The only living plant of the Ginkgoales order, its species originated over 200 million years ago and is often known as a “living fossil”. First documented in the Chinese Materia Medica Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, it has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for its antibacterial effects, and treatment of heart and lung conditions. In more recent research it has been shown to increase blood circulation helping to enhance memory and concentration. 


Lavender, Xun Yi Cao 

Lavendula officialis

  • Plant Family: Lamiaceae
  • Parts Used: dried and fresh flowers
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties: 
  • Carminative (relieving flatulence)
  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Calms the spirit and soothes Liver Qi  
  • Central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and relaxant
  • Antiseptic & antibacterial
  • Stimulates blood flow
  • Relieves muscles spasms
  • Antioxidant
  • Burns, cuts, and scrapes on skin

Lavender is one of the most known and widely used plants for medicinal and perfumery globally. It is widely cultivated for its sweet-smelling aroma and volatile oils. This plant has a particular affinity for the brain, head and nervous system. In large dosages, it has a unique ability to stimulate the central nervous system while it relaxes the nervous system, in small dosages. Lavender is a strong ally, aiding in relieving headaches, asthma, burns, wounds and digestive upset. Further, lavender has an overall calming effect on the body. Practice being intentional when sourcing this essential oil as it is highly adulterated and is likely to have synthetic chemicals added, which can cause headaches for some. 


Calendula, Common Marigold, Jin Zhan Ju
Calendula Officinalis 

  • Plant Family: Asteraceae
  • Parts Used: dried and fresh flowers
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Cleansing & Detoxifying
  • Astringent
  • Mildly estrogenic
  • Stops bleeding 
  • Wound healing; eczema, acne, diaper rash, psoriasis and skin conditions
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic

The power of the sun is packed into the bright yellow and orange flowers of Calendula. A member of the Asteraceae family, it has flavonoids, tannins: essential and volatile oils that have strong tissue healing properties. A versatile herb, used widely in Western herbal medicine, calendula is also cleansing and detoxifying, which can help clear infection and astringe the capillaries. 


Aloe Vera, Lu Hui

Aloe barbadensis

  • Plant Family: Liliaceae
  • Parts Used: clear gel inside leaves, fresh or dried
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Wound healing gel for burns, cuts and abrasions
  • Emollient (skin soothing)
  • Laxative, Purgative
  • Clears heat in the intestines 
  • Stimulates secretions of bile

A commonly cultivated house plant for many, Aloe Vera is a perennial, native to Africa, with succulent leaves in long spikes with yellow or orange flowers. The cooling and soothing quality of Aloe makes it ideal for calming irritated skin especially with burns. In Chinese Medicine, the inner gel is dried and then used as an herbal laxative to strongly purge and move stagnant Qi downward.


Ginger, Sheng Jiang

Zingiber officinale 

  • Plant Family: Zingiberaceae
  • Parts Used: fresh or dry rhizome 
  • Healing Properties:
  • Anti-emetic (nausea)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Circulatory stimulant
  • Digestive tonic
  • Pain reliever

Ginger’s common spice and flavoring has a long history of use throughout Asia and Europe. The bulbous rhizome grows in the dirt and contains high amounts of volatile oils that have a warming and stimulating function. Ginger is an incredibly helpful remedy for motion sickness, morning sickness, nausea and indigestion. Additionally, ginger helps rid toxicity from the body, facilitating detoxification and improving circulation, or Qi flow. Ginger is often added to Chinese formulas to harmonize all ingredients and moderate any digestive side effects. 


Mugwort, Moxa, Ai Ye

Artemnesia vulgaris

  • Plant Family: Asteraceae 
  • Parts Used: fresh and dried leaves 
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Stimulates circulation and improving Qi flow
  • Warms the meridians to relieve pain (arthritis and digestive disharmony)
  • Harmonizes menstrual disorders
  • Build blood and supports Iron levels
Moxa, a variety of Mugwort, is in the Artemnesia family named after the Greek moon goodness, Artemis. This plant is a powerful women’s ally alleviating many menstrual disharmonies. The burning of moxa, known as moxibustion, has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Moxa is a powerful blood building plant and can be used in various forms including processed plant material, oil infusion, water or alcohol extraction. The leaves of the plant are gently processed in a mortar and pestle until soft like cotton. The plant matter can then be burned on the body, on top of a needle or above the skin. It has a warming effect that helps to encourage the movement of Qi and blood in the body. The main active component, borneol, has an analgesic effect helping to relieve pain. Moxa can help with digestive problems, arthritis, pain, infertility, fatigue, headaches, and iron absorption. Moxa strengthens Qi, promotes circulation, and builds the immune system. The power of moxa is well known in China and used to treat a wide variety of conditions. 


Rose, Mei Gui Hua 

Rosa spp.

  • Plant Family: Roseaceae
  • Parts Used: fresh and dried petals, leaves, rosehips, essential oils
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Astringent
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-anxiety, calms the mind 
  • Cools and soothes the Heart

Rose comes in a variety of colors all with their own unique scent and aromas. It has been cultivated and celebrated since antiquity, originating from the Middle East. A symbol all over the globe of love, devotion, purity, and beauty. An emotional and physical medicine for the heart, rose calms and relaxes the nervous system. Rose has a cooling and astringent quality that makes it excellent for use in skincare. Rose and Rosehips are high in Vitamin C, A, B1, B2, B3, B6, E, K, folic acid, iron and a wide range of enzymes. Overall rose is a powerful ally that has a calming effect on irritated tissue, wounds, digestion, the liver and cardiovascular system. 


Rosemary, Mi Die Xiang

Salvia Rosmarinus

  • Plant Family: Lamiaceae
  • Parts Used: fresh and dried leaves 
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Tonic
  • Astringent
  • Nervine (a nerve tonic)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant

Native to the Mediterranean region, Rosemary has been used for centuries as medicine. Rosemary is a potent aromatic, evergreen shrub that is high in volatile oils, flavonoids, and terpenes. Rich with antioxidants, Iron, Vitamin A, C and B6, it acts as a circulatory and cognitive stimulant. This means it has an invigorating tonic effect on the cardiovascular and nervous system. Rosemary has been shown to strengthen memory, in particular assisting in memory recall.


Lemon, Ning Meng

Citus x limon

  • Plant Family: Rutaceae
  • Parts Used: fruit, pith, peel 
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Antiseptic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antirheumatic (inflammatory arthritis)
  • Antioxidant
  • Reduces fever
  • Detoxification 

One of the most important at home remedies and familiar food. Lemon is high in Vitamin C, which acts as a powerful antioxidant and immune tonic to clear free radicals that can damage cells. The bright, crisp smelling citrus is high in essential and volatile oils that help build resistance to infection and can be used as a disinfectant for cleaning. Lemon lifts and brightens the spirit and encourages movement of Qi and water in the body to assist in detoxification. Lemon used regularly can offers preventative benefits for high blood pressure, stroke risk, iron absorption, weight loss and cancer prevention.


Western Red Cedar, Hong Shan Shu

Thuja plicata

  • Plant Family: Cupressaceae
  • Parts Used: fresh and dried leaves 
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidants
  • Anti-fungal, Anti-bacterial, Anti-septic
  • Expectorant, clears respiratory tract
  • Boost Immune system

Western Red Cedar is an evergreen coniferous tree that grows in lush forests throughout North America, often with Douglas Fir and hemlock trees. Cedar is the cornerstone of Northwest US coastal regions and the Canadian Salish First Nations culture. Cedar was used for everything from clothing, baskets, rope and totems, to tools, canoes and cooking.  It is thought that by standing with your back to a Red Cedar you will gain strength along your spinal cord and root deeply into the Earth. The fresh fronds are high in volatile oils that have a strong anti-septic and cleansing property. 


Poppy, Ying Su Qiao

Papaver somniferum

  • Plant Family: Papaveracae
  • Parts Used: seeds, leaves, pods, and milky latex from unripe pods
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Mild sedative/relaxant
  • Sedative Analgesic (pain relieving)
  • Expectorant
  • Antitussive (prevent/relieve cough)
  • Central nervous system depressant

Native to western Asia, Poppy is an annual plant that has been cultivated in many countries throughout the world because of its strong analgesic properties and strong constituent profile. The cultivation of poppy is highly regulated because of toxicity and habit-forming effect. In ancient Sumeria, poppy was referred to as the “joy plant” for its sedative, relaxant and euphoric effects. In Chinese Medicine, the poppy seeds are used to astringe the lungs and large intestine to relieve pain. Poppy seeds are high in protein and linoleic acid which helps to lower blood cholesterol and treat cardiovascular issues. The most powerful component of this plant is the high alkaloid content in the milky latex of the pods. Alkaloids like morphine, codeine, thebaine and papaverine have helped us to create important and powerful pharmaceutical medications, but also come with high toxicity and strong addictive qualities.


Valerian, Xie Cao

Valeriana officinalis

  • Plant Family: Valerianoideae subfamily of Caprifoliaceae
  • Parts Used: root 
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • Mild sedative
  • Hormone balancing
  • Cerebral stimulant
  • Analgesic (pain relieving)
  • Promotes restful sleep and relaxation

Valerian is native to Europe, but has been widely cultivated in North America since the early 19th century during times of colonization. It is used widely throughout Europe as an over the counter sleep aid. Valerian contains a substance called valerenic acid that is believed to have an effect on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. GABA acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter helping to calm overexcited nerve cells. Therefore, valerian is a helpful ally to manage fear, anxiety and restlessness.


Magnolia, Xin Yin Hua or Hou Pu

Magnolia grandiflora

  • Plant Family: Magnoliaceae 
  • Parts Used: flower bud and bark
  • Key Actions & Healing Properties:
  • Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-allergenic
  • Hormone balancing
  • Encourages detoxification and lymphatic movement
  • Relieves muscle tension
  • Promotes restful sleep and relaxation
Magnolia are one of the oldest species of trees dating back 20 million years ago in fossil findings. There are over 200 varieties that grow all over the world from East to Southeast Asia, North America, Southeastern North America and parts of South America. The buds are tightly bound and open to reveal beautiful fragrant flowers. Two of the main aromatics compound are magnolol and honokiol, which have been shown to help support healthy digestion. Magnolia helps to support a healthy stress response by modulating cortisol production and occasional anxiousness. It can be used as a sleep aid, especially if nervous tension and adrenal fatigue are causing a restless mind.