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Saturday, October 17, 2009

On Medicinal Plants

Late last night I watched a show on Globo TV –  Brazil’s most popular TV channel – on medicinal plants.

The show was an eye-opener in that the reporters strove to squeeze the most they could out of the the various experts on phyto botanicals they had interviewed.

I watched in awe as they reported on trees in the Amazon forest and how promising the research being done is. In the oil of  single tree, Copaíba, for example, there might be the cure for Cancer, tuberculosis or, as one of the interviewees said, even AIDS.

They  also showed how people in those parts of the world live without the traditional meds we take for granted and rely solely on plants for their aches and pains. And surprisingly, taking statistics as a basis, their longevity is remarkable. Obviously, we cannot tell whether this is because of the power of the plants they imbibe in concoctions or the very fact they live in remote regions, away from sources of pollution. However, that is drink for thought.

If we consider that we live in an over-marketed world when it comes to drugs - with new diseases and the “right” medicine for them easily available and mainstream media campaigning on our behalf, it is a breath of fresh air to learn that much is being done to popularize what is already popular.

My great-mothers and their mothers all very much relied on herbs for every complaint they had and I find myself touched by the knowledge they took to the grave with them.

Luckily, my sisters seem to have retained some of that Wisdom.

Above: Tanchagem (Plantago major L.) - used for the treatment of Acne to Chronic Urethritis.

Left: Cashew fruit - the fruit is mashed and from it a gel-like substance is used to heal open wounds.,,MUL1344242-16619,00.html


  1. The plantago looks like something we had in Pennsylvania when I was growing up. It's probably a related species in the northern hemisphere. We might have it up here, too, but I can't really be sure. Haven't seen the flower stalks in NH as far as I can remember. I love plants and studied botany for several years. I don't know a lot about medicinal plants, but would like to learn.

  2. Plantago and Babosa (Aloe) are very popular. People swear by their efficacy in the various ailments they take them for. Incredible.