The Healing Seekers team went to Madagascar in search of the rosy periwinkle, where healers traditionally use it to treat conditions such as high blood sugar. The medicinal use of this plant by such cultures intrigued researchers, and their investigation led to a remarkable discovery of certain alkaloids within the plant. These powerful components (alkaloids) proved to be effective against certain types of cancer.
From the rosy periwinkle we have derived two very important chemotherapy drugs, vincristine and vinblastine, which are used in the treatments of childhood leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease. Although the initial focus was to explore plants similar to the rosy periwinkle, we discovered much more. Before us was a whole new world, full of surprising therapies which were completely unknown to any member of our team.
The island-country of Madagascar has been isolated from the continents of Africa and Asia for 65 million years. It is the oldest island on earth, and therefore, holds many secrets to evolution that scientists are only beginning to understand. Many naturalists refer to this unique island as a museum of living fossils.
Madagascar is only 300 miles from its nearest land mass, Africa, yet it has numerous species of life which are not found anywhere else on Planet Earth. In fact, of the 13,000 species of known flowering plants, 89% are endemic to Madagascar. If you compare that to the tropical regions of the Andes and Amazon for example, the percentage of endemic species is only 50%, even though these areas contain more species of life than Madagascar.
The Healing Seekers team traveled from the capital city of Antanarive to the Southwest region of Tulear and then back to the Northeastern coast to the Masoala Peninsula, then over to the national park of Ankarana and a visit to Ambaro Bay. No two locations were alike; and no two healers were alike.
Expedition Team: Grace Kanoy, On-site Director and Producer, still photographer; Esteban Barrera, Director of Videography, still photographer; Cary Kanoy, Second Unit Videographer, still photographer; Josh Jones, Sound Director, still photographer, Second Unit Cameraman; John James, Team Scientist, still photographer; Amy Greeson, Team Leader, Host, Researcher.
Post Production Team: McWhorter Concepts, Inc., Grace Kanoy and Amy Greeson