MediPlanB – Effects of indigenous medicinal plants on health and biodiversity

Verschiedene Arten von Kräutertee

The effects of improved biodiversity on the physical and mental well-being of adults and especially of socially disadvantaged people have so far been hardly studied in Germany. Within the research funding of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project explores the effects of indigenous medicinal plants on biodiversity and the health benefits for population groups with different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

Research approach

The aim of the project is to determine the effects of greater plant diversity on human health, with a focus on knowledge and use of medicinal plants. To this end, a comparative study will be conducted in Frankfurt am Main and in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Rhön. In these two areas, local knowledge about medicinal plants and their use will be studied. In addition, the effects on insect biodiversity will be determined. The study focuses on medicinal plants in private and community gardens, but also on wild plants. How their uses affect the psychological and physical well-being of adults will be investigated. 

The project follows a transdisciplinary approach that combines scientific knowledge from social and natural sciences as well as from the field of medicine with the practical knowledge of social actors. The research design combines qualitative and quantitative methods. This includes interviews with gardeners from different social backgrounds (e.g. with regard to age, gender, income, migration history) as well as with family doctors and employees of pharmacies. In the preliminary phase of the project, an inter- and transdisciplinary consortium will be established. A literature review, stakeholder analysis, and exploratory empirical researchon the knowledge and use of medicinal plants will be conducted. The research results will be used to derive initial recommendations for action in dealing with knowledge about medicinal plants and their use in the fields of health, nature conservation and urban and landscape planning.


The dramatic decline of biodiversity is progressing faster than ever before in human history; it continues on a global level, but also on a national level in countries like Germany. Despite increased efforts to protect and sustainably use biodiversity, none of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed on internationally in 2010 were fully achieved by 2020. 

This also applies to the health-related Target 14 of the Aichi Targets. People are highly dependent on a diversity of plants for their health and well-being. Many herbal remedies and food supplements come from plants harvested in the wild or cultivated in gardens. Medicinal plants are more and more recognised as an important and highly valuable component of biodiversity and of great importance for human health. 

At the same time, there is only limited scientific knowledge about the exact significance of wild and cultivated medicinal plants for biodiversity. The health benefits in different cultural, socio-economic and demographic contexts have so far also hardly been studied. An inter- and transdisciplinary research approach is needed to better understand the links between knowledge of medicinal plants, use practices and the impacts on human health and biodiversity (systems knowledge), as well as in order to identify strategies on how to better link biodiversity and human health (transformation knowledge).

Research and project partners in the main phase

  • Hochschule Geisenheim University
  • Heidelberg University

Practice partners in the main phase 

  • Kinder im Zentrum Gallus e.V. 
  • Verein Natur- und Lebensraum Rhön e.V. (VNLR) 
  • Landkreis Fulda – Fachdienst Biosphärenreservat und Naturpark Hessische Rhön


The project “Use, Knowledge and Health Effects of the Biodiversity of Medicinal Plants in Rural and Urban Areas in Germany (MediPlanB)” is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).


2023/06 – 2024/05