People of the Amazon use hundreds of plant species for medicinal purposes. Native shamans are
living encyclopedias of knowledge on how to prepare plants to treat a wide range of ailments.
Virtually every disease is treatable with one or more plants, although with varying effectiveness.
Some species are already valuable additions to western medicine. For example, Chondrodendron
is a vine used to prepare curare. Its active ingredient provides a drug used in surgery and to
treat epilepsy and tetanus. Other species are under intense scrutiny by western pharmaceutical
companies for their potential as commercial drugs.
Click below to see the photos and information on the medicinal plants:
If any plant deserves to be called a panacea it is cat's claw, or una de gato (Scientific name:
Uncaria tomentosa). This vine is named for its sharp, curved spines. The bark is used to
treat a wide range of ailments including ulcers, gastritis, arthritis, asthma, diabetes,
Alzheimer's and PMS. It is effective against tumors and is being studied for its effectiveness in
treating certain AIDS-related symptoms.
Ayahuasca (Scientific name: Banisteriopsis caapi) is a plant used by shamans to enter into
trance states. Stems are pounded and boiled with water to make a tea, to which material from other
plants is added. During the trance, the shaman enters the spirit world, calling on the ancestors to
help him divine the future, diagnose illness and see marvelous visions, hence it is also called
"Spirit Vine" or "Vine of the Soul."
The angel's trumpet (Brugmansia sp.) is a cultivated ornamental used like ayahuasca for
telepathy and divinations. The leaves are used for skin problems, and to help coughs.