Medicinal Plants of the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon rainforest
is home to a diversity of medicinal plants. Here are some of the
|The cocoa tree produces more than 150 chemicals
in its leaves, seeds, fruit, and bark. The Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs
used parts from the tree to treat anxiety, fever, fatigue, and coughs.
Five hundred years ago the plant was brought to Europe, where it was
used to treat kidney stones and cuts and burns, among other things.
Recent research shows that chocolate contains polyphenols, which prevent
Cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao)
Annatto/Lipstick tree (Bixa orellana)
|Annatto/Lipstick tree has a wide variety of uses.
For centuries, rainforest peoples have used the plant for things from
insect repellant to lowering blood pressure to love potions. Its traditional
uses are backed by recent research. Colombians have used extracts
from the plant to treat snakebites. A study in 2000 confirmed this
use in mice. Oil from the plant contains carotenoids (plant pigments),
one of which, Bixin, protects against UV rays. Annatto is still used
today in South America to treat heartburn.
|Trumpet tree is widely used in traditional medicine
in Central and South America. Every part of the tree is used. The
plant treats a diversity of conditions, including respiratory illnesses
Trumpet tree (Cecropia peltata)
Clavillia (Mirabilis jalapa)
|Clavillia is a perennial herb mainly used to kill
viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. This plant has many active
compounds like triterpenes, proteins, flavonoids, alkaloids, and steroids.
A group of amino acid-based proteins called MAPs protect against plant
|Suma (Pfaffia paniculata)
is a large ground vine with an extensive root system. Today, it is
considered a tonic and an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a plant that
helps the body resists adverse influences by a wide range of factors.
In Brazil, suma root is taken to stimulate appetite and circulation,
balance blood sugar levels, and enhance the immune system, muscular
system, and memory. Suma root has very high saponin content (up to
11%). Saponins have a variety of effects, including lowering blood
no picture available
Curare (Chondrodendron tomentosum)
|Curare is a large poisonous vine rich in alkaloids.
The alkaloids relax muscles and are used as an arrow poison. In South
America, it is used to treat bruises, fever, edema, and kidney stones.
It is also used as an anesthesia.
Click on the picture to see where it came from.
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