Jungle Medicine

An elusive monkey hiding in the jungle in the Tambopata region, Peru

I recently got back from visiting the rainforest in the Tambopata National Reserve, near Puerto Maldonado, Peru.  We had an amazing adventure and saw a ton of cool animals (a later post still to come from Janie), but I wanted to show just a few of the many plants that the local people use as medicine.  There were a ton of medicinal plants in the jungle, that are used for all sorts of problems, from headaches to diarrhea to stomach ulcers….there is even a jungle version of Viagra.

This strange tree with vibrant red roots is used to treat kidney stones. The red roots are boiled and made into a drink that helps clear kidney stones.

This plant has same basic compound as acetylsalecytic acid (commonly known as Aspirin) and is used to treat headaches.

Jungle fern that is used to treat liver problems.

This particular tree is called the fire ant tree....it houses fire ants which protects the tree from other species...a tree symbiotic relationship in the forest. The bark from this tree is used as an anti-diarrheal. The ants, which contain formic acid, are used to treat some types of arthritis.

This tree, whose name translates to "Dragon's Blood," produces a very dark red sap that looks a lot like blood. The sap is used to treat many skin problems, including bug bites and allergic rashes.

Here you can notice many cut marks in the tree where the medicinal sap has been extracted.

Here you can notice a drop of the sap which appears like blood. When the sap is rubbed along the skin, it transforms to a white cream.

Janie took advantage of the Dragon's Blood sap and used some for a nagging bug bite she had on her finger. She actually noted that the sap cream relieved her itching very well.

Overall, a really interesting experience to see some of the different plants that are used to treat different diseases, the same ones that we treat in the U.S. with completely different methods and medications.  There are no clinical trials or evidence-based medicine in the rainforest, but these methods are still being effectively used to improve the lives of the surrounding communities.

Also, I’d like to congratulate all my fellow comrades at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, class of 2012,who recently matched into their residency programs.  Awesome job you guys!  For the full story, click here.  For the full match list, click here.





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One Response to Jungle Medicine

  1. Wesley Farr says:

    I enjoyed your blog.
    It’s great to see you and Janie having such a wonderful experience on an overseas mission.
    Wes Farr

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