Why Study

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 on.

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.

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