Why we chose Origami and Sunflowers to thank Clinical Trial Participants

So, perhaps you are clinical trial participant who has been gifted an origami sunflower, or you've spotted our Origami 4 Clinical Trials product range? Maybe you are wondering why we chose Origami Sunflowers as (in our view) a perfect gift to say thankyou to the people taking part in trials? Well, let us explain...

It all started with our first O4CT Campaign, October 2023. We were looking for words that started with O, like October, and happened across origami. It got us thinking.

Origami is traditional Japanese paper-foldering folk art. In Japan, it is often given as a gift, and is considered to be a symbol of good luck. It is also believed to represent strength and perseverance, as a single sheet of paper can be transformed into something beautiful and intricate. We saw parallels in the symbolism of origami to clinical trials.

Gifting origami to give to a trial participant acknowledges the gift of their participation to us, future patients. It symbolises the strength and perserverance it takes to participate in a clinical trial. And, we wish trial participants good luck in their health journey, whatever the trial outcome.

Origami flowers signify a friendship that will endure for all time, even after other flowers will fade and eventually die1. We also see how that concept aligns with clinical trials, noting that the knowledge gained from clinical trials will endure as gift of friendship from one generation of patients (the trial participants) to future patients.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do.

- Hellen Keller

We went looking for the perfect flower to associate with clinical trial participants, and believe we struck gold with the Sunflower. Below we list many of the reasons we believe this to be so.

Sunflowers embody joy, adoration, and longevity in various cultures around the globe2.  These are all things we would wish for clinical trial participants.

Sunflowers always face the sun, symbolising unwavering faith and orientation towards the light2. This positivity and optimism is something we see in many people taking part in trials.

There are thousands of tiny flowers in the head of a sunflower3. For us, that symbolises the many people that may take part in a clinical trial, who as a group produce something larger than themselves.

While many people are familiar with tall, yellow sunflowers, there are also other colours, like red and purple, and different sizes (tall and dwarf). For us, this symbolises the need to recognise that clinical trials needs to serve and include people from many walks of life, not just those that are most familiar.

Sunflower oil may have a number of health benefits4, including anti-inflammatory properties, a high polyunsaturated fatty acid content that is good for heart health, a high vitamin E level that is good for brain and nerve health, and more. We hope clinical trials ultimately improve health, so why not associate them with a flower with potential health benefits?

Finally, sunflowers are a symbol of hope, as are clinical trials. Sunflowers start out as something small, but with care and the right conditions, can develop into something extraordinary. They remind us that even in those cloudy moments in life, we can look with hope toward the light and a bright, more promising tomorrow. 

So, thankyou to all clinical trial participants. We think that these Origami Sunflowers represent all that you are - your resilience, your hope, your diversity - as well as our appreciation and wishes of longevity to you. Most importantly, we hope they make you smile.


1. What you need to know about Origami Designs and their Symbols. Our Family Lifestyle, Oct 2022

2. The Meaning and Symbolism of the Sunflower. Thursd

3. 16 Sunflower facts that are so sweet. Proflowers

4. Sunflower oil. Is it good for you? WebMD

The head of a sunfower against a bright blue sky.

Acknowledgements: We'd like to say a quick thankyou to our CCReW friend Deborah Robins, who we tossed the concept of sunflowers around with, supporting us with lots of great ideas. We would also like to note the origami sunflower design was adapted by AccessCR, from a @smartlife135 video on Pinterest

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