New Medicines from the Rainforest – Where are They?
The rainforests of the world have long been touted as Mother Nature’s Medicine Chest. If this is indeed the case, where are the wonder drugs we have been promised?
This lecture presents an examination of the current state of affairs from an ethnobotanical perspective: are there “novel” therapeutic known to and employed by indigenous healers? How were these wonder drugs found in the past? How are they being searched for today and – if not – why not? How has the Intellectual Property Rights movement helped and hindered this search? How is acculturation and deforestation impacting this search? Are plants the most promising organisms, or are frogs, snakes and insects worthy of further investigation?
In conclusion, what is to be done? “Viva Schultes – A Personal Retrospective” Richard Evans Schultes was often hailed as “The Father of Ethnobotany.” He often replied that ethnobotany began with the Pharaoh Hatchepsut 3500 years ago, and he was not quite that old.
His career trajectory was extraordinary: from seminal studies of peyote in Oklahoma amongst the Kiowa to unraveling the mysteries of the magic mushrooms of Oaxaca to his dozen years in the northwest Amazon where he described ayahuasca and yoco and yopo, made contact with isolated tribes, found new varieties of Hevea rubber and lived an adventurous field life of which ethnobotanical adventurous dreams are made.
This lecture focuses not only on Schultes many ethnobotanical contributions, but little-known tales of his adventures and exploits as well as his enduring legacy as a plant explorer, conservationist, and friend of and spokesperson for of his beloved indigenous colleagues.