ambience: Dawn chorus, Yuba Pass
For much of the world, there is a pharmacy that’s virtually always open and it’s free. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
“According to the World Health Organization approximately two thirds of the worlds population uses plants for their primary medicines.”
Rick Stepp is an assistant professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He says that many cultures have a profound understanding and appreciation of medicinal plants.
“Healing in the US is seen as highly specialized field and Americans are taught early on the dangers of self medication and, in part, there are some good reasons for that, because self medication can lead to some problems. But it is quite different for the vast majority of the world’s population. The vast majority of the worlds population does self medicate and they self medicate through medicinal plants they find growing close by. And these tend to be fairly effective for lots of people and either because of lack of access to a doctor or simply that they don’t necessarily need a doctor for day-to-day illnesses. With the Highland Maya that I work with in Mexico there are clinics that are fairly available but people rarely visit them because most of the time they can take care of the problem themselves through medicinal plants. The Highland Maya peoples, they almost exclusively rely on fresh plant material. Some of the compounds in plants do tend to degrade when they’re dried out and there is really no reason to keep a supply of plants on hand in the house when you can just walk outside and get them. So they do have a medicine cabinet of sorts I call it a “living Pharmacy” and this living pharmacy is right outside their door and their house is sitting right next to the living pharmacy.”
We’ll hear more about medicinal plants in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation . I’m Jim Metzner.