The Amazon rainforest is known for its rich biodiversity, but few realize that this natural wealth goes far deeper than just the animals and beautiful flora. The rare plants of the Amazon not only create a unique natural environment, but have been used by ancient civilizations (and are still being used today) for their powerful medicinal properties.
From anxiety to infertility, to cancer and AIDS, these medicinal plants have long been used to heal all of humankind’s ailments – and we’ve likely only discovered a small percentage of them. Here are just 10 of the most useful medicinal plants of the Amazon rainforest (though there are thousands more!), and what they can be used for.
Great for kidney health, the root of the Wasai (açaí) tree is often ground up and prescribed as a diuretic.
Seventy percent of plants with anticancer properties exist only in the Amazon, and this is one of them! Currently, this incredible medicinal plant is used to treat cancer, alleviate pain from chemotherapy, and fight infections.
Long used by native cultures, this plant is useful as an anaesthetic for those who are ill or have suffered an injury. By simply chewing on the leaves, your mouth will go numb. Rub it on a wound for the same effect.
The bark of the Tawari tree has multiple anticancer properties and is useful in treating infection, cancerous cells, tumors, and inflammation.
Forget nicotine patches, because the aromatic sodo plant can be used to cure addiction (including alcoholism) and fever.
Literally translating to “the charm of the buzzard” but more commonly known as the garlic vine, this medicinal plant is used to relieve anxiety and reduce blood pressure, and has a calming effect on the consumer—a good alternative to clinically-produced psychotropic medications. It is also used to treat atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), arthritis and rheumatism.
You may not have heard of the tree, but its bark contains quinine, famously used for its treatment of malaria. More traditionally it is used to treat blood and cardiac disorders, digestive problems, and muscle spasms.
Often used to treat women with ovarian cysts, Canellila is also believed to be one of the medicinal plants that could increase the likelihood of conception.
An aphrodisiac, healing tonic, energizer, and immune system enhancer, Suma—also known as Brazilian Ginseng—does a lot of good. On top of all that, it also has anti-cancer properties!
The thick red latex of this plant not only got it its nickname “dragon’s blood”, but ironically is also used applied to wounds to stop bleeding, as it forms a quick-drying, skin-like protective barrier said to have coagulant properties. Very convenient if you get any cuts while exploring on your Amazon vacation.
The above are only 10 of some 30,000 medicinal plants found in the Amazon Rainforest rainforest, many of whose uses have yet to be discovered. You can learn about many of them from the expert natural guides and shaman of the indigenous tribes you may meet on our Amazon tours.
As we work to protect the Amazon Rainforest, it’s essential that we remember the potential cures that lie within it in the form of medicinal plants. So far, this includes plants that can be used for AIDS, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s drugs and cures, and hopefully many more in the future!
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