The steamy warmth of the Amazon and Belizean rainforests is a far cry from the cold, stainless environment of a pharmaceutical lab. Is it possible that these untouched soils hold the key to treating injury and disease? The people indigenous to these jungles have learned over millennia that their plants, trees, and soils are all the medicine they need to survive and thrive alone.
The pharmaceutical industry has a value exceeding $400b and grows by the day. Many of the medications produced and sold by those companies may have originated with the very people who will never step foot in a pharmacy or grocery store.
Over 25% of modern medicinal products are drawn from these plants used in the jungles and rainforests around the world as balms, pain relievers, and digestive supports. This number becomes even more shocking when we realize that less than 5% of the plants in the Amazon alone have been analyzed for medicinal potential. How many more safe, effective medications are hiding amongst the plants and trees in Central and South America?
A whopping 70% of the plants that are known to have anticarcinogenic properties grow in Amazonia. One of the most popular, Cordoncillo (aka Piper aduncum), contains chromene in its leaves. This chemical can fight cancer cells, alleviate pain, and battle bad bacteria. The plant’s leaves and bark, which taste like menthol, are traditionally used as medicine for myriad ailments.
The indigenous people groups of these areas rely on hunting, fishing, and gathering to survive. There is simply no time for aches and pains. Cat’s Claw offers relief from joint pain, ulcers of the mouth, and more. It has been studied for over two centuries as a cure for arthritis pain and its anti-inflammatory properties. Research is ongoing for its potential impacts on Alzheimers and certain dangerous viruses.
Advertisements centered around upset stomach, bloating, and diarrhea have unfortunately invaded American television airwaves for decades. These complaints are nearly unheard of amongst the communities throughout the Amazon rainforest. One reason could be the impact of the tea made from the pau d’arco tree – Lapacho. This tea has been used for thousands of years as an aid to digestion, is caffeine-free, and packed with essential micronutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iodine, boron, and barium.
Moisturizers and band-aids are accessible in the jungle pharmacy, as well. The extract of the Cupuaçu tree can act as a sunscreen while moisturizing dry skin. The thick, red latex of the sangre de drago (aka sangre de grada, sangre de grado, and formally, Croton lechleri) plant has long been used as a liquid bandage. Called “Dragon’s Blood” colloquially, it forms a quick-drying, skin-like protective barrier across wounds – quite handy in a thorny, jungle setting.
While the goal of Boulder Longevity Institute is to find the newest, effective way to treat whatever needs our clients have, we do not forget to look to those who have been practicing medicine the longest. They might just hold the key to a previously undiscovered cure.