The world’s population is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The United Nations published statistics during March 2021, suggesting the global human population has now almost hit the 8 billion mark. The planet is coming under intense pressure to feed and provide for so many people. Without urgent action to prevent deforestation and global warming, many of nature’s wonders and secrets could be lost forever. This includes something that doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves, natural medicine, and remedies. The planet is home to diverse ecosystems from South American rainforests, Asian jungles, and African plains that hold plants that have been used to treat many of humankind’s illnesses for thousands of years, which could all be lost in a very short space of time.
By destroying the very places that provide us with remedies such as mimosa hostilis root bark powder, which is native to North-Eastern Brazil and Southern Mexico. We are losing potential cures that are time-tested to work for a wide range of illnesses. Once the plants are gone, they are gone forever. Lots of these plants only grow in specific areas so the need to protect nature has never been more important.
Which Are The Most Commonly Used Plants in Medicine?
With modern medicines being prescribed all too often and many have serious side-effects, although they help to alleviate the symptoms they can also have negative effects on our bodies. Many of these natural medicines are ones you may have heard of and even tried, here are some of the most popular herbs and their uses that need a healthy environment to flourish:
- Turmeric: One of the best-known herbs that is believed to have medical properties, used for thousands of years in India as an anti-inflammatory, and is believed to have anti-cancer benefits. Turmeric can now be found all over the world in stores and specialized health stores but due to climate change, it is worried that Turmeric production could be affected.
- Tea tree oil: Native to Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, Tea tree oil is used to help treat skin conditions including athlete’s foot, acne, dandruff, insect bites, and inflammatory skin conditions. Due to the increasing number of wild-fires that the two Australian states suffer in part due to global warming each year production has been affected.
- Wild Yams: This herb is native to Mexico and Guatemala and provides cortisone and diosgenin. Until recently it was the only source which contained these compounds which are active ingredients in birth control pills. Land being cleared for cattle and the unstable weather patterns have affected the regular supply of Wild Yams.
These are just a small example of the wonders that nature has provided us, which we could face losing forever.
A Very Large Part of The World Relies on Herbal Remedies
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 80% of developing nations still use herbal remedies for their primary healthcare. This is in large part due to financial restrictions and lack of trust in modern medicine and government and large pharmaceutical companies. In Southeast Asia, forest-dwelling communities use over 6,000 different species of herbs to treat a variety of illnesses, both psychological and physical.
In many parts of Latin America, the local shaman is the primary health worker in the community. With natural resources being destroyed at an alarming rate due to forest reclamation by large farming corporations, loggers, and multinational mining operations this knowledge is being lost. Every minute 150 acres is destroyed in the Amazon alone, which equates to 70 million acres or 20,000 square miles lost every year. Many people believe that these natural resources being lost could help cure cancers or even the Aids epidemic that persists today all over the world.
Do Pharmaceutical Companies Need the Environment?
Pharmaceutical companies have a relationship with the environment that ensures they need to help protect it. Unfortunately, money does often take priority as is the case with many industries. The global pharmaceutical industry in 2019 was projected to be worth 1.25 trillion US dollars, with such high profits and consumer demand, the industry probably doesn’t always take the environment into consideration.
About 25% of modern medicine is derived from herbs including opium, aspirin, and the anti-malarial drug quinine are all widely popular medicines that we use today. The continued growth of these herbs should be protected to ensure their use. Whilst pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in the continuous manufacturing of these products, their track record of pollution from production is continuing to pollute the atmosphere and waterways of the world.
What Else Does the Loss of the Environment Mean?
With the rapid destruction of the environment in the last century many animals, plants and humans alike are suffering the consequences. The need to sustain food supplies for humans often comes at the expense of other species driving many to the brink of extinction and many are already extinct. It is human action or inaction that has caused the loss of Wooly Mammoths and the Dodo for example, which were all hunted to extinction by humans for food.
With the increasing deforestation of our forests and jungles, we take away the ability of nature to clean the air and remove the ever-increasing carbon dioxide levels of the planet due to our use of fossils fuels. Without nature’s help, the cases of respiratory disease and cancers have increased at an alarming rate. Contaminated water and air have contributed to the rise of severe respiratory diseases such as Asthma.
With air, ground, and water pollution affecting the natural balance of the earth, many of the plant species we need for current medicine and future research are being lost. Some cannot be replicated in a lab such is the case with Mimosa hostilis that is used for many treatments. It is supplied primarily by The Mimosa Company based in the Netherlands but relies on the continued supply from North-Eastern Brazil and Southern Mexico.
Is There a Need to Protect Plant Species
Plants deserve the same protection from destruction as any other species on this planet. Once gone we lose vital resources not just for the pharmaceutical purposes they provide in our daily lives, but as the dominant species on the earth we have a moral obligation to ensure all species can thrive. We live in an ecosystem that is finely balanced and humans need to respect that balance and not destroy it through greed and the love of money.
With very few natural environments left in the world, the remaining ones should be protected by law to ensure future generations can enjoy the benefits from nature the same as we have been privileged to have. Medicine derived from unknown herbs still has a lot of potentials and the destruction of the environment in which they grow is detrimental to our health.
With so many of us relying on current medicine and many more yet to be discovered and trailed, it would be a shame to lose what has been used for thousands of years to over development of the natural world and the environmental destruction that is only gaining pace around the world.
This content is sponsored by Benjamin Ortiz.