Natural Triad – Nature and Global Teamwork: Creating Ultimate Health Care
By: Amy Greeson –
Several years ago researchers at Harvard, led by John Burley, went to the island of Borneo in search of medical cures. When they returned to the United States they analyzed their specimens in laboratories, working with the National Cancer Institute. To their surprise, they discovered that samples from a particular tree appeared to ‘knock the socks off’ of HIV-1 (AIDS). They eagerly returned to the jungle to collect more samples, only to discover that the tree was no longer there… the area had been destroyed. To this day, we have yet to find that particular tree.
Nature has been promoting health and curing disease, illness, and imbalance for as long as man has been on Planet Earth. Indigenous cultures continue to hold many of these secrets today, using therapies that have been used for hundreds and often thousands of years. Surprisingly, only 1/2 of 1% of all higher plant species on Earth have been extensively studied for their medicinal value. 1/2 of 1% !
From less than 5% of all life forms on Planet Earth, approximately 55% of our pharmaceuticals have been manufactured, derived from, or synthetically patterned. Furthermore, it is only because medicine men, medicine women, healers, and indigenous cultures have been willing to share their knowledge and wisdom that a great majority of these medicines are even a reality. These resources have given us pharmaceuticals like:
- Antibiotics like penicillin, cephalosporins, vancomycin, and streptomycin;
- Blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin) and heparin;
- Blood pressure meds/ACE-inhibitors like capoten (captopril);
- Anesthesia meds that were originally derived from curare;
- Statin drugs for cholesterol like Lipitor, Mevacor, and Zocor;
- Medications for diabetes like metformin (Glucophage) and Byetta.
These were all created from a ‘blueprint’ of nature. These examples of pharmaceuticals come from fungi, bacteria, molds, frogs, plants, and animals. It becomes vital that we strongly protect and preserve all life forms. Tragically, today we continue to lose environments, species, and cultures at an alarming rate. How many cures have we forever lost? How much wisdom and knowledge is eternally lost? How long will it take to truly honor, appreciate and respect all cultures ?
We have yet to truly even explore our world and its natural healing potential. In many ways it’s exciting, as one can only begin to fathom the possibilities. And, at the same time, it is important not to be too eager to embrace everything just because it is natural. Nature can heal…and nature can kill. (Some of the most powerful treatments we are exploring are coming from the most venomous and deadly creatures on the planet.)
One must exercise caution with the selection and quality of the products one buys, and especially from whom one takes advice. The Internet, for example, is an amazing tool yet it allows much information to be given that may not be accurate. Additionally, people who are eager to help—or to make a quick buck—can be found everywhere trying to convince others about products that may not be credible. Unfortunately, it’s because of these types of situations that we now have huge walls and separations that have prevented the legitimate therapies from being more accepted in Western health care.
The beauty of integrative medicine is that it combines the best of all worlds of medicine—from chemotherapy, radiation, and pharmaceuticals to meditation, reiki, acupuncture, shamanism, and herbal remedies. Perhaps for most of us, the ultimate in health care resides somewhere in between. It’s remarkable to think how much integrative medicine is already a strong part of our health care today: the power of positive thinking, meditation, vitamins, and the many examples of products from natural resources.
Take for example, the Pacific Yew tree. The Pacific Yew tree was once considered a nuisance by loggers who routinely discarded it because it had ‘no commercial value’. A National Cancer Institute program, through Research Triangle Institute, isolated a compound (an alkaloid) called paclitaxel from the bark of this tree. Paclitaxel had an amazing, unique chemistry that researchers found to be tremendously powerful in the treatments of cancers like advanced ovarian and breast cancers. This activity was unlike any other treatment in the way that it stopped cancer.
There was a problem though, and that was the diffi culty in supplying the raw material. In fact, it was estimated that it would take 62,480 trees to yield enough paclitaxel to treat the 12,000 American women who died of ovarian cancer each year. (1992). Attempts to harvest the compounds failed to yield enough of the active compound. Therefore, it became imperative that scientists re-create the chemistry, or semi-synthetically make it. It became critical that we utilized the best of both ‘worlds’. This approach of finding the ‘blue-print’ in nature and then recreating it in the laboratory has been quite effective in many ways.
Perhaps one of the most wonderful and powerful movies about the significance of nature, its cures and the preservation of our environment is the movie, Medicine Man with Sean Connery. As in the movie, nature’s secrets are often difficult to find and quite unexpected. The Pacific Yew tree is yet another great example. For you see, it was later discovered that it wasn’t just the bark of the tree that produced the paclitaxel….it was the symbiotic relationship of fungi with the bark, that produced the paclitaxel.
It is vital that we preserve these environments and these cultures. It is imperative that exploration and discovery continue, as it has been proven innumerable times that nature not only holds the secrets, but remains the greatest alchemist and ‘teacher’ in curing disease, promoting health and healing, and re-establishing balance. Nature also teaches us that it is the symbiotic relationships—the teamwork—that produce the answers and the miracles… and it is what makes it possible for life itself.