by Victoria Bowmann, Ph.D. —
Although the South American rainforest is spread across 1.2 billion acres, it comprises only one percent of the Earth’s surface. Yet it is considered the “lungs” of our planet, since it recycles at least 20 percent of the Earth’s carbon dioxide into oxygen. Most importantly, it is home to more than half of our planet’s 10 million insect, animal and plant species, many of which are or could be medicinal. That is why the rainforest has been nicknamed “Nature’s Medicine Chest.”
Research on the few plants that have been studied indicates that at least 37 percent of all medicines prescribed in the U.S. have active ingredients derived from rainforest plants — and 70 percent of the more than 3,000 plants found to be active against cancer cells are found in the rainforest. Still, fewer than one percent of the plants from the Amazon rainforest have been scientifically researched for their potential benefits to our health.
Nevertheless, these medicinal and energizing properties have not gone unnoticed by the indigenous Indians who, for centuries, have used these natural ingredients to energize, heal, prolong life and improve their overall well-being. Following the instincts of these traditional healers has led us to research one potentially beneficial plant called açai which looks simular to a palm tree.
This fruit is five times higher in antioxidant concentrations than ginkgo biloba, particularly in anthocyanins, which are typically found in purple pigmented fruits. This phytonutrient has successfully been used to treat a wide range of conditions including high cholesterol, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and varicose veins.
Five reasons to include the açai fruit or juice in your diet:
- Youthful, healthy looking skin
- Improved circulation, especially to the extremities
- Healthier eyes — particularly, improved night vision
- Increased energy and vitality
- Resistance to colds, flu and disease
Even Oprah had a guest physician on her show who listed açai as one of the top 10 foods to help people look better and age more slowly.
Anthocyanins do a better job of protecting artery walls than vitamins C and E. However, the combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin E and the anthocyanins found in the açai fruit makes it one of the highest antioxidant-producing fruits. As a result, it may be very helpful as a cancer-preventing agent. Additionally, it contains both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which not only help reduce cholesterol but also act as a great energy source.
Unfortunately, the rainforest is disappearing at the alarming rate of 1.5 acres per second. At this rate, the whole thing could be decimated within the next 40 years.
As we shop for personal care products, we can make the conscious choice to find companies that respect the people, plants and environment of the rainforest. Socially and ecologically sensitive farming will profit everyone, especially the earth. The longer we can protect the rainforest, the longer the rainforest will be around to protect us.
Victoria Bowmann, Ph.D., is a licensed massage practitioner specializing in cleansing and detoxification. She has been in private practice in northeast Phoenix since 1978. 602-971-8392 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 2, April/May 2005.