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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Things That Matter

UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Photo courtesy Forward Latino

An unnamed UPS delivery driver has been fired after being caught using racist language when delivering a package to a Latino household. The incident occurred on December 17th.

The video, which was caught on a doorbell camera’s security footage, shows a white UPS driver appearing to be angry when delivering a package.

“Now you don’t get f—–g nothing…You can’t read and write and speak the f—–g English language,” he says while writing a “failed to deliver” notice and pasting it on the house’s front door.

The Aviles family says that the footage shows that the UPS worker never even attempted to deliver the package in the first place. He never rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Based on that, the family has come to the conclusion that the driver intentionally withheld the package from the family out of prejudice and spite

They believe that the only way the driver could’ve known that the family was Latino was by making assumptions based off the name on the package.

“The only information this driver had that could serve as a trigger for this deep-seated hate was the name on the package,” said Forward Latino President Darryl Morin at a press conference addressing the incident.

“So what we have here is a very intentional act to ruin Christmas for somebody, for someone to spew this hateful rhetoric, and quite honestly to deceive their employer,” Morin continued.

Per UPS, the employee has now been fired. “There is no place in any community for racism, bigotry or hate. This is very serious and we promptly took action, terminating the driver’s employment. UPS is wholeheartedly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” UPS said in a statement. They also said they contacted the family to apologize.

But the Aviles family is still rattled that such bigoted people are out and about, letting their petty prejudices effect other people’s lives.

“The package was a Christmas gift that we eventually received after Christmas Day, but what if it happened to have time-sensitive content like an epipen or a book I needed to take a final,” said Shirley Aviles, the mother of the man who lives at the address, told NBC News. “I don’t get it. It’s just sad.”

Aviles seemed disturbed about what this incident says about human nature. “This is about the things people do when they think no one is watching them. That’s important because that’s when you see people’s true colors and that’s what’s scary,”

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America


Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Henry Sadura / Getty Images

Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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