As the internet continues to provide a vast array of information on everything from conspiracy theories to how to make money online, one interesting conversation that is taking place is the one surrounding the growing trend of ethnobotanicals in place of more traditional medical approaches. Ethnobotanicals are basically just plants and trees that come from certain areas of the world and are believed – by some – to have strong medicinal uses. Of course, there are some who would say otherwise. The irony of modern medical professionals saying that these ethnobotanicals are taking the place of “traditional medicine” is almost comical: plants and trees are a lot more “traditional” than we give them credit for; especially where medicinal uses are concerned.
There is a tree that grows in Thailand called the Kratom tree and it is at the heart of a major controversy. Kratom trees have been harvested by the government in an effort to stop people from using the powder that is produced from refining the tree. People can be put to death for being caught with Kratom powder. But what is being overlooked by the government in Thailand, is how Kratom powder can help people who are suffering from illness or injury. There are some organizations working to promote the research and testing of the Kratom tree powder so that we may understand its full potential, but the governments around the world continue to push back.
Ethnobotanicals fall into the more well known “chinese medicine” category as well. Because of the claims of centuries of healing and relief related to plants and herbal remedies, lots has been done to bring traditional chinese medicine to modern treatment centers and regimes. There has been hundreds of years of study and experimentation done in the chinese culture, and people still question the validity of such treatments. It is necessary to study the people who use these treatments in order to understand the reasoning behind such applications; this lends to the modern applicants of such treatments under current medicine plans.
An important distinction for medical professionals to make is that ethnobotanicals are not drugs. They are plants that are used in medical ways. Certain types of mushrooms have long been thought to be powerful hallucinogens, and therefore have been labelled as dangerous or taboo. However, there are lots of kinds of mushrooms that have many medicinal properties and can be used to help heal the body after injury or illness. Chaga mushrooms, while they don’t resemble a mushroom that we would imagine, provide anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants to people who ingest them in products like teas.
So while there is much controversy surrounding the growing and harvesting of ethnobotanicals, there is much to be learned about these magical plants and trees as well. Out of controversy always seems to come more controversy and those that say the plants and tree products work, will continue to support them and it may take many more years to the rest of the medical community on board with that line of thinking.