Forest Medicine: a resource to discover

Each species of plants shares many phytochemicals with all or most other higher plants, and they share with us all the chemicals necessary to sustain life. But probably all green plant species have some phytochemicals unique to themselves. Each species is a chemical factory full of useful compounds. I’ve heard it would take all the chemists of the world working thousands of years to come close to creating as many phytochemicals as have already been created evolutionarily by our green friends, the plants we sacrifice so haplessly.


Three quarters of our medicine’s made
By synthetic chemists’ escapades
But the better quarter still derives
From Father Nature’s quaint archives.

I feel that Father Nature’s best
With his natural treasure chest.
This feat, by no means, was his dimmest!!!
He also made synthetic chemists!!!
anonpoet (Herbalgram, 1988)
How many unknown phytochemicals await discovery in Latin America, some with the answers to diseases we don’t even know yet? As we destroy the forest to feed the overpopulated world on corporational junk food, we lessen our chances for finding these new natural medicines, in general better and safer than the corporational pharmaceuticals, which kill more than 100,000 North Americans in the U.S. each year, even when taken as prescribed in a hospital. To my knowledge, despite concerted efforts to do so, no one has ever documented more than 50 deaths a year in America for our green medicines (….)

Strangely, some 75% of the world’s population, too often envy us our modern pharmaceuticals when they can’t afford them. Little do they know that for many of the maladies of mankind, the natural grren farmacy is healthier, cheaper, and sometimes as efficacious. Until the more promising of these Latin American medicinals are compared clinically with competing pharmaceuticals, no one knows which is better, the natural or the pharmaceutical (….)

Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America

James A. Duke with May Jo Bogenschutz-Godwin Andrea R. Ottesen