To the people of the rainforest it is a sacred place. A place of wisdom, of health, of life. The indigenous peoples of the rainforest have learned the secrets that are hidden in the dense vegetation. It is here that they find food, medicine and the materials for shelter, weapons and adornments.
The Amazonian rainforest is the most diverse habitat on earth. Over half of the world's 10 million species of plants and animals live in this forest. One national park in Peru is home to more bird species than are found in the entire United States. Approximately 60,000 of the world's 250,000 plants grow in the rainforest. That is 1 out of every 4 plants on earth!
The shamans and traditional healers have learned how to utilize thousands of species of plants for medical purposes, yet only approximately one and one half percent of the species in the Amazon rainforest have been studied by scientists.
One rainforest plant, the Madagascar Periwinkle (nearing extinction in the wild), has produced a drug that has increased the survival rate in children with leukemia from 20% to 80%. Quinine, an alkaloid from the cinchona tree, was first discovered by South American Indians. It was used worldwide for hundreds of years to cure malaria, until synthetic drugs were created, which in turn created new, resistant strains of malaria. Doctors are now prescribing compounds containing natural quinine.
Many of the Rainforest Herbs are commonly used in Brasilian urban centers. Copal, known as Copaiba, is used as a remedy for colds and respiratory problems. It was used for centuries by the natives to accelerate the healing of wounds. More than one hundred prescription drugs on the market today are plant-based, but only 95 species are responsible for these medical wonders. What other wonder drugs are hidden in the rainforests? The cure for cancer? The United States National Cancer Institute, on limited resources, has found that of the 3000 plants it has identified as having anti-cancer properties, 70% of them come from the rainforest. But the rainforests and the indigenous peoples are in grave danger. The rainforest is disappearing, some estimate the destruction at 100 acres a minute!
Go to the index of RAINFOREST HERBS that are commonly being used. Before you buy the herbs you can read basic information about the herb and it's properties.
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Last update September 30, 2006