Things That Matter

17 Medicinal Secrets Of The Amazon Rainforest

The rainforests are full of medicinal secrets that we may never know about. So far 90% of all drugs are derived from some sort of plant, both from rainforests and other areas of the world. The rainforest is, however, a largely untapped source of medicine. Here are 17 South American rainforest plants and animals that we have derived medicines from so far.

Cinchona Tree

Photo from: “Plants that changed the world: cinchona

Quinine derived from the cinchona tree in the South American rainforest and is mainly used to treat malaria. The drug is extracted from the bark of the tree; it is also used to treat lupus, arthritis, and leg cramps. Quinine is also a popular ingredient in mixed drinks; used as a flavoring. The World Health Organization suggests that medical practitioners use it as a second line of defense because of adverse side effects. Common side effects are headache, hearing impairment, and nausea.

Wasai Root

Photo from: “Top Ten Medicinal Plants from the Amazon

Wasai root is from the rainforests of South America. Its medicinal properties have not been fully researched. It is currently used as a diruetic and for kidney health. The root is dried and ground up then administered to the patient in a tea.

Coca Plant

Photo from: “Coca Plant: The Andean Elixir

Novocaine and cocaine are derived from the coca plant. The coca plant hails from South America and was initially used to combat fatigue. The favorite soft drink Coca-cola used to incorporate this plant into it as a stimulant. The drug has not been used in the soft drink for years due to regulations, but people still use cocaine in many regions of the world. The plant is used as an anesthetic, bone repair, rheumatism, headache, improved digestion, malaria, ulcers, and asthma.

Curare Liana

Photo from: “Meet The Plants

The Curare plant is native to Central and South America and is used to make tubocurarine. Tubocurarine is a muscle relaxant. Indigenous South Americans originally used it as a paralyzing poison in blow darts. When the dart hit prey animals, they became immobilized; then it could then be killed and used as a protein source for the tribe. Today it is used in anesthesia when patients need to be completely immobilized for delicate surgical procedures.

Pusangade Motelo

Photo from: “From Pant to Pill

Pusangade Motelo is from South America and it is known for its calming medicinal properties. People have used it to treat things like depression and anxiety. It certainly makes a good alternative to some of the harsh psychotroic medications curretnly on the market.

Wild Yams

Photo from: Gundry MD Team

Wild yams from South America contain diosgenin. Diosgenin is the precursor to hormones such as pregnenolone, cortisone, and progesterone. Wild yams are currently used in the commercial synthesis of these hormones. Yes, your birth control is made from potatoes. Wild yams have also been used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, cramps, blood sugar, and menopause symptoms. People do not usually eat these because they are bitter. They are usually ingested as a tea or in a tablet.

Bothrops jararaca

Photo from: The Reptile Database

Also called jararaca (hararaca) is a snake from South America with a viper like head. It was often referred to as Fer-De_Lance. The venom from this snake drops the blood pressure of the victim causing the victim to collapse. Scientists isolated captopril, the compound that causes the victim’s blood pressure to fall to treat hypertension. This isolate is the first of the family of Ace inhibitors on the market today.

Pilocarpus

Photo from: Alex Popovkin, Bahia, Brazil

Pilocarpus is the source of pilocarpine, a parasympathomimetic alkaloid. Pilocarpine is used to induce sweating or salivation. People with Sjogren’s Syndrome have blocked excretion glands; pilocarpine is used in these patients to enable them to sweat and relieve dry mouth. It is also used to alleviate ocular pressure in patients with glaucoma. The plant comes from South America, and the medicinal portion is the leaves.

Yerba Mate

Photo from: Mate Factor

Yerba Mate is a plant from the southern region of South America. It is a popular stimulant that contains amino acids and the health benefits of tea. Many people are choosing to use yerba mate over coffee because of the health benefits and it being perceived as a cleaner drink. You have probably seen it offered in your local coffee shop.

Lapacho Tree

Photo from: The Horticult

The pink lapacho tree is native to South America. It grows in the Andes, and the inner bark is used to make a medicinal tea. People from that area use the tea to treat stomach problems such as diarrhea, infections, and fever. Naturopaths recommend it for cancer, and there is currently research being done on the inner bark tea, usually called Taheebo, to see if it can be scientifically proven.

Tawari Tree

Photo from: Liliana Usvat

Tawari tree bark from Peru is known for curing many different types of ailments. In the western world, it is primarily used as an anti-inflammatory, fungicide, and anti-bacterial agent. It is also known to have anti-cancer properties and to be used as a laxative and to stimulate the immune system.

Suma

Photo from: Shaman’s Garden

Suma also called “Brazilian Ginseng” is a root with medicinal properties from South America. It is not like ginseng at all except for the fact that it is a root and similar in color. Sum root is used for many medical issues including fatigue, anxiety, and digestion. It has also been used as an aphrodisiac and for the treatment of ulcers. The most common mode of ingestion is from a tea prepared from the crushed root.

Spiked Pepper

Photo from: Australian Department of Agriculture

The spiked pepper or cordoncillo is native to many rainforests around the world. Indigenous people mainly use it as an antiseptic. People in Peru claim that it is good for ulcers and stopping hemorrhages; it is used to stop the bleeding when someone is cut. Europeans have used it for genital diseases. The main part of the plant that is used are the leaves.

Sloths

Photo from: Lorax Metz

OK, the sloths don’t actually cure disease, it is the fungus and bacteria that can be found on them. Sloths in the Central and South American rainforests are home to microorganisms that have been shown to slow cancer growth. So far, these organisms have fought breast cancer cells and Chagas disease (an infection caused by a parasite).

Uragoga

Photo from: Royal Electro Homeo Industries

Uragoga is from South America and the widely used chemical emetine is derived from it. Emetine is used in the syrup of ipecac. Ipecac is not as heavily used in the west as it had been in the last century. Ipecac is still currently used to induce vomiting after someone has ingested poison.

Sodo

Photo from: “From Pant to Pill

Sodo, also from South America is well known for its ability to help people to quit smoking, drinking, or other bad habits. Natives and people today use the plant to cure addiction. This is another medicine that still needs scientific research, but if you are in a tough spot, why not give it a try, it may work for you.

Plastic Eating Fungi from the Amazon

Photo from: SciTechDaily

This one is not necessarily a medicine, but it could solve the enormous plastic garbage problem that we have in the world today. There is plastic trash everywhere killing animals every day. We currently have no workaround for the fact that plastics do not biodegrade readily. This fungus called Pestalotiopsis microspore, from Ecuador, can eat and break down plastic. As technology around this fungus is developed, it will save the lives of animals and humans in the long run.

Rainforests are important sources of new medical treatments. Most medicinal resources from the rainforests of the world have not even been discovered yet. We have to do everything that we can to make sure that they don’t disappear.

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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