The Astounding Energy of the Rainforest

Art of Well Being

By: Amy Greeson –

I am constantly amazed at the interconnectedness of all life; the vital roles that plants, animals, and indigenous cultures have in the world of medicine and healing; and the incredible value of tribal/cultural wisdom and knowledge. Recently, I witnessed this yet again as I trekked to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Even though this was my eighth trip to a rainforest, it was perhaps the one with the most awakening. The Amazon is always spectacular, opening not only my eyes, my mind, and my heart, but also encouraging this reconnection with all of life … and life itself.

Typically, these ventures involve a small group of three to ten other health care practitioners, physicians, nurses, holistic healers, etc. from all over the U.S. and Europe. This time, however, I went solo, accompanied only by a videographer and translator, native
guides, and my personal guide and friend, Cary Kanoy. (Cary and his wife, Grace, own the U.S./Ecuadorian company Core Expeditions. The ultimate survivor man, Cary also guided author Robert Whitaker down uncharted regions of the Amazon’s Rio Bobonaza for his book, The Mapmaker’s Wife.)

Within this pristine environment, I discovered how to stitch up a wound with surgical ants; how to treat bacterial, fungal, and viral infections with the sap of a tree and various plants; which mushrooms are used for the treatment of ear infections; which plants are used for inflammation, pain, diarrhea, snake bites, burns, etc. I became terribly sick after eating something called ‘chicken’ in a dug-out canoe, but let’s not talk about that. I experienced healing and cleansing ceremonies with various Shamans. And, as always, I was flabbergasted by the magnificent scenery and wildlife: blue morpho butterflies, monkeys, leeches, caimans, poison arrow frogs, and so on.

During this trek, I spent time with four medicine men, a medicine woman, and a mid-wife – from the depths of the Amazon (Quichua Tribe) to the heights of the Andes. Each one had a beautiful and eager willingness to teach and to offer insight into their methods of healing. They taught not only the physical treatments, which involved plants, roots, energy, physical manipulation, etc., but also the powerful spiritual element of healing. I am amazed at the depth of spirituality that is inherent in their practice of medicine and healing. There is no separation of mind, body, and spirit; to them it is ludicrous to even fathom such a concept.

Every Shaman or healer with whom I have ever had the privilege to spend time with is first and foremost guided by a Higher Power (be it named God, Spirit, etc.) This Higher Power is acknowledged and respected in every life form – humans, animals, plants, etc. Furthermore, it is recognized that energy flows within each person and is interconnected with all of life. Disturbances or ‘bad energy’ may create imbalance and disease. Perhaps one day we will better understand this energy system and its incredible power in health and healing. Just as our practice of medicine recognizes the significance of a circulatory system and a respiratory system, so too should we seek to understand this energy system. What if such a system holds the keys to unlocking the secrets of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and such? Often it is difficult to accept those things which we can not see and which exist outside the realms of present reality. However, remember that although we can not see them with the naked eye, electrical currents, light waves, quarks, and leptons do exist. Believing in them or not believing in them will not change the fact that they exist. Like the Shamans and healers from all around the world, practitioners involved in energy work and healing are not only credible, but vital to our health care system.

This trek to the Amazon was also a sad reminder of the continued devastation of the rainforests, and the destruction and eternal loss of so many potential remedies and cures. Disregard, negligence, ignorance, and greed have allowed careless exploitation, logging, commercial development coupled with the effects of global warming, to transform much of the land into a heartbreaking
‘waste land.’

I strongly believe that there is a cure/treatment for every disease and medical condition that exists. Unfortunately, we are destroying the very places and life forms that have the power to heal us. For who would have imagined that a mold would produce the chemical which would lead to our most popular blood thinner? Or that an ocean sponge would lead to developing an AIDS drug? Or that the saliva from the Gila monster would lead to developing a new drug for diabetes? Or that a plant from Madagascar would lead to developing two chemo agents? Or that a bark of a tree would lead to a treatment for breast cancer?

Consider, too, that the indigenous cultures within these priceless environments already hold many of the secrets that we are so desperately seeking. Who would have imagined the poison used on the tip of a blow gun would lead to the very meds which made it possible to perform heart surgery? Or that the knowledge of a bark would lead to the treatment for malaria? Or that a native’s use of a plant for skin conditions would lead to two chemo drugs? Without this indigenous knowledge, these treatments would most certainly remain undiscovered. When will we awaken to validate not only their significance in this world, but the vital role that they play in the world’s health care? When will we finally understand that the true path to ultimate healing and health care lies in the teamwork – Shamans, healers, reiki masters, meditation and mindfulness instructors, spiritual counselors, physicians, nurses, etc.?

Inevitably, by utilizing the strengths and knowledge of the members of this wholistic team, we will have the potential for ultimate interconnectedness which will undoubtedly change the world. Don’t see it yet? The possibilities exist – just remember the quarks and leptons.

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