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Medicinal-plant hike set for Saturday in Deukmejian park

Participants who take a guided hike Saturday with medicinal-plant expert James Adams might soon change their go-to headache remedy.

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To ease a mild headache, Adams told Deveron Shudic, who is with the Glendale Community Services and Parks Department, suck on a California bay leaf, “which, by the way, [is] really bitter,” said Shudic, a trails and open-space specialist.

The hike, slated from 9 a.m. to noon at the Deukmejian Wilderness Park, will focus on medicinal plants, including how Native Americans used them and the role they play in modern pharmacology.

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Adams, a USC pharmacology professor who studied California medicinal plants with a Chumash shaman for 14 years, will be taking a group of up to 50 hikers on a 1-mile hike, stopping frequently to point out plants and their medicinal properties.

A similar hike offered as part of the city’s interpretative programming in March was so popular — with at least 60 people turned away — a second date was added, Shudic said.

“A lot of the pharmaceuticals we have today are derived from plants,” Shudic said. “So it’s a real thing, medicinal plants.”

The hike also has a practical element: Adams will teach the hikers where to find medicinal plants and how to grow their own.

“I think people who have some mild health concerns like to invest in alternative options,” Shudic said. “Also, it’s just interesting.”

Adams co-authored a book about the cultural and scientific basis for medicinal plants of the American West with Chumash shaman Carmen Garcia, who he studied with and has since passed away.

Besides the educational element of the hike, Shudic said the park, featuring all native California plants, is an experience in itself.

“I wish I had a word for it, but there’s something about the Deukmejian park that just seems magical and always has — even before the city owned it,” she said.

The “Medicinal Plants of the West” hike is relatively short, but it covers steep and rocky terrain, according to Shudic. Young children and the elderly may have difficulty completing the hike.

The free event requires an RSVP, but is now full. Those who want to participate in future events can call (818) 548-3795 to learn more.

Hikers should wear sturdy shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, as well as bring sunscreen, water and a hat.

Deukmejian Wilderness Park is located at 3429 Markridge Road.

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