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close this bookOutreach No. 66 - Drugs Part 3: Herbal Medicine (New York University - TVE - UNEP - WWF, 40 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentArticles on herbal medicines that have appeared in back issues of OUTREACH
View the documentContents
View the documentPlants that kill can often cure (plus exercise)
View the documentThe effect of plant chemicals on animals
View the documentA disappearing storehouse of medicinal plants
View the documentThe effect of plant chemicals on humans
View the documentWar on drugs: the tobacco connection
View the documentTraditional herbal medicine and “modern” medicine
View the documentUsing local plants to treat intestinal worms
View the documentTreating cuts and wounds
View the documentUnderstanding medicinal plants teaching materials available from World Neighbors
View the documentTraditional medicine to graduate
View the documentFilm: Jungle pharmacy
View the documentIndigenous treatment for drug dependence in Thailand
View the documentIdentifying health-protecting customs
View the documentA simple and effective cough syrup we can prepare at little cost from the plants we find around us
View the documentDiscovering the uses of medicinal plants in your neighbourhood
View the documentFilm and teaching suggestions - Herbal medicine: fact or fiction?
View the documentPills and potions
View the documentRevival of traditional medicine in Amazonia
View the documentDecode the drug
View the documentBiodiversity and health
View the documentBarefoot doctors
View the documentHow a rainforest in Western Samoa was saved

Barefoot doctors

Ethnoboranists are studying the methods and materials of local people who have a long tradition of herbal medicine.

A WWF-supported team has catalogued more than 1,000 plants used by South American rainforest Indians with economic potential as food, medicines, or industrial substances. Researchers have: listed Amer-Indian tribes who have outstanding expertise in using the resources of their forest home, compiled a computer record of 400 years of ethnobotanical data, identified a number of underexploited species with promising economic potential, and found areas of high species diversity deserving further study and protection.

Some important discoveries occur by chance and no one can predict which plant will be next - another argument for keeping the wild gene pool as large as possible. In a recent case, Ethiopian villagers living downriver from a communal washing site were surprisingly found to be virtually free of bilharzia, a parasitic disease which affects more than 200 million Africans. The reason: the women upstream washed their clothes with dried wild soapberries (Phytolacca dodecandra) which killed the disease carrying snails.

Source: “Saving the plants that save us” produced by WWF and IUCN for their plants campaign.