Medicinal drugs now used in the developed world come from only about 95
of the 250,000 known species of flowering plants on earth. For thousands
of years, medicine and plants were synonymous. Willow bark was the original
source of aspirin. The ergot fungus is the base for many important drugs
that fight migraines. Digitalis is used in heart patients. The list goes
|Why Study |
However, earlier this century, the medical industry strayed from the finding
medicines in plants. Scientists conservatively estimate that at least 300
useful drugs are still undiscovered in the tropical rainforests of South
America, at a potential profit of $94 million each.
Mark Plotkin, an enthnobotanist wrote in his book Tales of the Shaman's
Apprentice that every time a shaman dies, it's like a giant library
of medicinal plant knowledge has burned down. Time is short. We are within
a generation's time of losing vital knowledge about plants and what they
may offer us.
The study of new plants can and has led to the creation of medicines that
can save lives and cure illnesses. As the tropical rainforest shrinks day
by day, the potential to discover new plants shrinks as well, yet few researchers
are actively seeking new plant species in the jungles of South America.
Ethan Russo went to the rainforests of Eastern Peru looking for cures for
headaches. He carried home 90 plant samples and hopes to find support for
his continued research. Read more about it by clicking the button below
marked research info.