The research and harvesting of rainforest plants for pharmaceutical use against tuberculosis is crucial as tuberculosis is one of the most deadly and common major infectious diseases today. It infects two billion people, or approximately one-third (WHO TB) of the world's population. In a recent study, 46 % of the Amazon plants studied inhibited the growth of TB.
January 6, 2006 - By Melissa Mathis, Greenspan
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Peruvian Rainforest Plants have been cited as a source of a possible cure for tuberculosis. Over 1,000 plant extracts were analyzed, and nearly half exhibited the ability to inhibit the growth of the bacterium that causes TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis). This is a breakthrough towards developing beneficial medications, and it will also provide economic support to the Aguaruna people. The Aguaruna are an indigenous tribe in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.
Tuberculosis is an infection which most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can also affect the central nervous system (meningitis), lymphatic system, circulatory system (Miliary tuberculosis), genitourinary system, bones and joints (Wikipedia).
The plants studied have long been used by the native people in herbal medicine. The samples collected displayed beneficial properties in fighting certain strains of cancer and several other diseases, but the effectiveness against TB proved to be overwhelming. The scientists who lived with the tribe, and collected plant samples, never expected such positive results because the Indians never used the plants to fight tuberculosis; TB is rare in the Peruvian Amazon.
Tuberculosis is one of the top three most deadly infectious diseases in the world. It occurs mostly in developing countries, and it infects one-third of the world's population - two billion people (WHO TB). Every year nine million new cases appear, and two million people die.
Developed countries are also at risk. Once believed to be eradicated in the US, TB has reappeared. People with compromised immune systems are at risk. TB's reappearance has mainly been attributed to the spread of the HIV virus (the virus that causes AIDS), immunosupressive drugs, and other immune deficiencies.
New strains of TB are emerging that are resistant to current drugs. TB was declared a global health emergency in 1993 (World Health Organization), and the Stop TB Partnership proposed a Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis.
New drugs are desperately needed. Rainforest plants are ideal for medicines because they possess a genetic ability to produce higher than average amounts of defensive compounds that ensure their survival amongst their own natural predators. Alkaloids are one of the compounds that inhibit the growth of TB at a rapid and unprecedented rate.
TB is not the only disease the rainforest holds the potential to eradicate. Ten rainforest plants have been identified that combat HIV; 28 rainforest plants fight bronchitis, and 30 rainforest plants fight asthma. Before the latest research in Peru, 13 Rainforest plants were identified that exhibited properties to fight TB. The research and harvesting of rainforest plants for pharmaceutical use against TB is crucial as one-third of the world's population is infected with TB - one of the most threatening diseases mankind has ever faces. (Read More)
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