The secret of the medicine men Essay

This essay has a total of 1269 words and 8 pages.

the secret of the medicine men

Secrets of the Medicine Man: Why they’re better then ours.

Thousand of years ago Man, and Beast lived in peace. Then Man grew hungry and decided to
hunt beast. Beast grew angry and decided to send disease to man. Man grew weak and sick,
and was close to death. Plant took pity upon Man and said, “Do not fear, for death
will not visit you. For every disease that Beast sends you, you will find the cure in
us.” (Iroquois 34) This Iroquois folk-tale was used to explain the healing
properties of plants. Plants have been used to cure all the aches and pains that have
plagued mankind.

There is a large body of research into herbal medicines. Great progress has been made in
the isolation and identification of the constituents of medicinal plants using high
pressure liquid chromatography and gas chromatography. Research to identify the main
active components is carried out either in a search for new drugs or to enable claims to
be made for proprietary herbal preparations. Medicinal plants have been generally shown to
have not one but a combination of active principles. Once these principles are found, the
next step is learning how to synthesize it

The medical industry has been synthesizing medicine for years now. We have become so
reliant on the industry, that the very notion of ingesting the plant matter has become
sickening. People have even stopped eating balanced meals, in favor of neat
multi-vitamins. Most of which have vitamins that cancel each other out. The problems with
synthesizing medicine, out weighs the benefits. We should not continue to synthesize our

The first factor that one should consider is the cost of buying synthesizing medication
versus taking the natural approach. According to Forbes Magazine consumers spent an
estimated $3.5 billion on herbal supplements, almost twice the amount as in 1994. (Forbes
28) However Goldenseal now costs $100 a pound, up from $15 a pound a decade ago. When one
considers the fact that it costs $1 billion, and requires 10 to 15 years of R&D to bring
out a synthetic drug, one has to wonder why put up with it. The Rural Advancement
Foundation International (RAFI), a small, non-profit organization, estimates that
medicinal plants and microscopic organisms from the Third World contribute between US
$30-60 billion a year to the US pharmaceutical industry alone.(Brace 14).

On the other side of this discussion there are the United Plant Savers. They are a
non-profit organization that is dedicated to saving medical plants. They believe herbs
will soon be on the endangered species list. Representatives from the organization say,
“There's one sure way to halt the carnage, however. Just go back to using synthetic
medicines made from good old chemicals in good old laboratories. Pop a pill, save a
plant!” (Pappas 47) Sharply increasing demand, combined with diminishing habitat and
a lack of domestic cultivation, puts

tremendous pressure on wild medicinal herb populations. The National Center for the
Preservation of Medicinal Herbs uses the term critical to cultivate to describe medicinal
herbs that have been overharvested in the wild to the point that their existence is
threatened. They are critical to cultivate because the only way to ensure their future is
to grow them, rather than continue to wildcraft them. Herbs valued for their
roots—where the entire plant is harvested—are especially vulnerable and are a
priority at the Center. Research is being conducted on organic propagation of plants,
while wild populations are being protected and nurtured.

There are types of compounds that are, “Mother Natures kitchen, end of story.”
(Medicine) These compounds are ones that can not be duplicated with chemicals, and can not
be synthesized. These plants must be grown in pseudo-natural environments. However when it
comes to rain forest plants, it is a different story. "Man cannot conceive of all the
molecules that Mother Nature has developed," said symposium moderator John H. Cardellina
II, of the Council for Responsible Nutrition. (Forbes 28). There are more factors in the
rainforest canopy then we can ever measure. Thus the plant must be harvested from nature.

Damage to the environment is another factor in this problem. First off every medical
company sends out hordes of ‘biological pirates’. They are untrained hunters
who locate medical plants, steal the plant, and return them to the company. The tribes
that they were taken from receive no credit, and then are moved off to relocation camps.
The problem is even worse is when a large supply is found growing. In an effort to create
a monopoly on the product, the company will tear a road right up to the supply. The road
will kill thousands of species, and perhaps even kill off organisms vital to the
plant’s growth and development. Finally there is the damage to the native
population. “ There were nine million natives in the rainforest. Than white man
brings flu, small pox, and mescals. Now there are twenty thousand natives. Without
counting on your fingers, how many did we shove in the hole!?” (Medicine) The sad
truth is that researchers are not as careful as they could be when it comes to preventing

When one weighs the differences of natural versus chemical, one can see that natural has
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