One of the most exciting areas of research in tropical forests is ethnobotany, which is the study of how people use plants to treat illness and disease. Forest people have an incredible knowledge of medicinal plants, with remedies for everything from snakebites to tumors.
To date, many of the prescription drugs used in the western world have been derived from plants. Seventy percent of the plants identified by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as having anti-cancer characteristics are found only in forests.
The shaman or “medicine man” of a village typically holds knowledge of medicinal plants. The shaman treats the sick, often during elaborate ceremonies and rituals using plants gathered from the surrounding forest.
Shamans have incredible healing powers, but their knowledge is rapidly disappearing as rainforests are cut down and tribes abandon their traditions. Shamans are going extinct faster than rare and endangered species.
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- May I use graphics from mongabay.com for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite mongabay as the source.
- Is this web site credible? Mongabay is the world's most popular source for information on tropical forests. The site is highly acclaimed by a number of the world's leading tropical scientists. Mongabay Founder Rhett Butler has published several scientific papers.
- Can I interview the founder of mongabay for my school project? Unfortunately Rhett is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
- Do you have any games or activities? Currently there are a few on the resources page.
- How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed at Rainforest Solutions.
- Where can I learn more about rainforests? Check the main rainforest site.