Why Safeguarding the Rainforests May Help Advance Medical Knowledge

The rainforest is an amazing natural source of medicine and in fact 25% of all the medicines that are currently on the market contain active ingredients that can be found in the trees and plants that grow in the rainforest. However, to date only around 1% of these plants and trees have been examined for their medical properties. The rainforest has been found to contain around 1,500 types of flowering plants as well as an impressive 750 species of trees. Here are a few of the amazing natural cures that come from rainforest plants.


rainforests-source-of-medicineThis amazing white alkaloid comes from the bark of the cinchona tree and has a bitter taste. It has long been used as a cure for malaria and for many centuries colonials in tropical countries have favoured gin and tonic as their drink of choice for the quinine that is added to tonic water. In fact, in many countries quinine is still used to help reduce the effects of malaria. In addition to its antimalarial properties, this alkaloid also contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic elements that help to reduce swelling and pain.

Rosy periwinkle

This pretty flowering plant contains two important anti-tumour agents that have proven to be extremely effective in fighting lymphocytic leukaemia and Hodgkin’s Disease. The rosy periwinkle plant is used in two major anti-cancer drugs, namely vincristine and vinblastine, and the use of these drugs has improved the chance of surviving childhood leukaemia from 10% to 95%.

Wild Yams

The fruits of these tasty fruits are rich in the chemical diosgenin, which is used in a number of birth control pills. The plant also features hormone balancing qualities that have been utilised in several different types of menopause medications. Wild yam extracts are also used in pain and inflammation medications and have been shown to be extremely effective.


The new shoots of the avocado plant can be boiled to treat coughs, while avocado fruit is often used to treat intestinal worms. The skin of the avocado features antibiotic properties that are used to treat dysentery and is found in many types of modern treatments. As for the leaves, they have been found to contain properties that help to treat gum disease, especially when used in a paste.

The Cocoa Tree

cocoa-treeThis amazing tree features properties that are effective in treating a range of complaints including burns, eczema and dry lip. The Linus Pauling Institute have also published findings that show that the cocoa tree can also be used internally to treat headaches, sooth coughs and reduce high blood pressure.

Golden Trumpet

These vibrant flowers contain a natural laxative that is used in different types of medicines in the Western world. The plant also features antibiotic properties, while the roots of the golden trumpet are often used to treat complications with malaria, jaundice and enlarged spleens.


Also known as the lipstick tree, extracts from the bark and leaves of this tree are used to treat snakebites. The oil from the annatto contains carotenoids such as Bixin, which is used for its anti-oxidant properties in various types of medicines. Other plants and tree that are found in the rainforest and are used in various types of medications around the world include the angel’s trumpet, lemongrass, mammosa and saw palmetto berries.

With more research it could easily turn out that cures for many of the fatal and chronic illnesses that humans suffer from could be found naturally in the plants and trees of the rainforest. It is important that action is taken to protect the rainforest because if we lose this valuable resource we also lose all of its important medical properties as well as the potential to find new life saving cures.