Medicinal Uses of Rainforest Plants
It is estimated that nearly half of the world's estimated 10 million species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next quarter century due to rainforest deforestation. Rainforest plants are complex chemical storehouses that contain many undiscovered compounds which are a vital part for the growth and development of the world. Therefore, we can only gain access and knowledge to these materials if we study and conserve the species that contain them. Rainforests currently provide sources for one-fourth of today's medicines, and 70 percent of the plants found have anti-cancer properties. However, they are only found in the rainforest. The rainforest and its immense undiscovered biodiversity holds the key to unlocking tomorrow's cures for today's devastating diseases.
In 1983, there were no US pharmaceutical manufacturers involved in research programs to discover new drugs or cures from plants. However, today over 100 pharmaceutical companies and several branches of the US government, including Abbott, Merck, Bristol-Meyers, Squibb and the National Cancer Institute are actively engaged in plant-based research projects for possible drugs and cures for viruses, infections, cancer, and AIDS. However, I am presenting the preservation of the world=s rainforests by showing how much more valuable plants are standing rather than cut down. Indeed, it is a race against a clock whose every tick means another acre of charred forest. Yet, in a competitive market, whoever presents new evidence in chemical bioprospecting will secure health and a piece of scientific immortality.
We are now losing the earth=s greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their Atrue@ value. Tragically rainforests once covered 14 percent of the earth=s land surface; now they cover a mere 6 percent due to ignorance and greed by short-sighted government, multinational logging companies, and landowners. All forests have both economic and ecological value, but tropical rainforests are especially important in a global economy. Tropical forests provide many valuable products including rubber, fruits, lumber, and medicinal herbs. However, these valuable natural products that the rainforests provide have fallen victim to deforestation, and the rate of destruction is still accelerating. Unbelievably, over 200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed every day in the world. Therefore, one can imagine the vast amount of cures and experimental knowledge lost to the negligence of society.
The Amazon Rainforest is the world=s greatest natural resource and the sacred link between humans and nature. It supports millions of plant, animal, and insect species and provides the essential environmental world service of producing more than 20 percent of the world=s oxygen. Yet, still it is being destroyed just like other rainforests around the...