By Liliana Usvat
Rain forest and Medicinal Plants
There are many plants that have been discovered in the rainforest. Many of them can help fight diseases. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has identified over 3,000 plant that help fight against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the rainforest. Over 100 medicine companies are searching for a plant or medicine that will kill cancer cells completely. Of the 121 drugs that have been produced from plants found in the rainforest today, 74% of them were found during research on the plant’s medicinal properties.
These companies are working with tribal healers to learn the wealth of their knowledge. Amazonian Indians are often the only ones who know both properties of the plants and know how they can best be used. Their knowledge is very important and is helpful to conserve and develop the rainforest.
Here is some samples of trees for medicinal uses
Cinchona Tree (S. America)
Calabar bean (Africa)
used to treat glaucoma and provides a blueprint for synthetic insecticides
Coca plant (South America)
local anesthetic; cocaine served as a blue print for less toxic, less addictive anesthetics
Curare liana (America)
Originally used by natives to poison arrow tips. Muscle relaxant for surgery; to treat muscle disorders like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Cannot be synthesized in the lab.
Rosy periwinkle (Madagascar)
pediatric leukemia, Hogkin’s disease
Wild yams (Central America)
active ingredient in birth control pills
Other medicinal plants found in forests around the world
According to Michael T. Murray, N.D., in his book “The Healing Power of Herbs,” goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a perennial native to Eastern North America. The medicinal parts of this plant are the roots and rhizome. Goldenseal was used by American Indians to reduce inflammation of the mucous membranes in the respiratory, genitourinary and digestive tracts during infections.
According to Wilkes University, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) is a perennial herb that grows along the East Coast of North America. It is a rare plant and is considered threatened in New Hampshire. Medicinal properties of cultivated plants tend to deteriorate after 10 years, unlike wild plants that improve with age. It is used to promote immune system health, cholesterol levels and memory. American ginseng also has anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.
Black cohosh (Actea recemosa) aids in relieving women’s health issues like menopause and menstrual cramps. Black cohosh reduces leutenizing hormone, which has an estrogenic effect on the body, helping to reduce hot flashes and hormone related depression. The medicinal part of black cohosh is the root.
Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) is a deciduous tree with a medicinally powerful inner bark that becomes mucilaginous when mixed with water. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this helps to coat and soothe all parts of the digestive tract. It may also protect against ulcers and excessive amounts of acidity. Slippery elm helps to relieve diarrhea and stomach complaints. Because of its effect on the digestive tract, slippery elm is being considered as a treatment for Crohn’s disease and gastroesophegeal reflux disease (GERD).
- Production of Native Herbs in Ontario Forests (onspecialtycrops.wordpress.com)
- Ginseng Benefits: an Energizing Medicinal Plant (wakingtimes.com)
- Black cohosh (completeherbalguide.com)
- Herbs with Phytoestrogens (lovelyinspirationsblog.wordpress.com)
- Ways in Which American Ginseng Differ From Korean Ginseng (healthsupplementsandnutrition.wordpress.com)
- The Most Important Plants in Medicine (proplants.com)
- Unique Plant Adaptations For Survival (proplants.com)
- 13 Medicinal Plants (thehealthcouturefirm.wordpress.com)
- Ways in Which American Ginseng Differ From Korean Ginseng (guardiannutritionindia.wordpress.com)
- Wild Ginseng Hunting (ireport.cnn.com)