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Important medicinal plants in the Amazon

With around 80,000 different species of plant covering its 5,500,000 square kilometres, the Amazon rainforest is home to the largest variety of plant life found anywhere in the world. And with new species discovered every year by Amazon jungle expeditions, it’s no wonder that the rainforest is home to some of the most fascinating and potentially lifesaving plants on earth.

Though not all of the jungle’s plants can be used in medicine, a huge number of rainforest species have been found to have beneficial effects. From fighting cancer to soothing asthma and reducing anxiety to treating gallstones, the plants of the Amazon have hundreds of potential medicinal uses. And as we discover more about the Amazon jungle, the number of applications is only set to grow.

 

Rainforest plants and western medicine

Currently around 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest plants, however only around 1% of existing jungle species have been scientifically tested so far. This means that, as we learn more about the Amazon jungle and its plant life, the number of medicinal benefits could grow enormously.

What’s more, according to the US National Cancer Institute, 70% of the plants it has identified as having cancer fighting properties are found in the Amazon, something that is sure to attract more investment and investigation as the demand for new treatments increases.

 

Traditional medicine

Lapacho Though the modern world is only just beginning to learn about the Amazon Jungle and itshuge medicinal potential, local indigenous communities have been using rainforest plants for generations to cure a variety of ills.

It’s estimated that the people of the Amazon already use around 1,300 species in their traditional remedies. Though we doesn’t fully understand how all of these plants work, the evidence suggests that many are incredibly effective.

Lapacho

Also known as pau d’arco, lapacho is used to relieve the pain of chemotherapy and arthritis and has been shown to be effective in fighting bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Yerba mate

Originally found wild in the rainforests, the increased demand for yerba mate means that it’s now grown in special jungle plantations.

Yerba MateRenowned for its stimulant affect, yerba mate is also incredibly nutrient rich and has long been used by native tribes in times of drought or famine.

Cat’s claw

Currently being researched as a possible treatment for both HIV/AIDS and cancer, cat’s claw stimulates the immune system, helping those suffering from severe illness to fight back.

As we learn more about the Amazon jungle, the number of remedies and ingredients that we discover will only increase. And with so much rainforest yet to explore, the potential medicinal benefits for people around the world are incredibly exciting

 

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