Rainforest Remedies

The Amazon is home to literally hundreds of thousands of healing plants, many of which still remain undiscovered. It’s incredibly difficult for me to choose only a few, but let’s get started with the three super-healing plants I talked about on the show: guarana, graviola and cat’s claw.

Guarana: Natural Energy Booster

Guaraná is a small round red fruit that grows in clusters, which South American tribes have used since long before Brazil was even discovered. Today this seed is used across Brazil and in some US products to boost energy, support mental acuity, fight fatigue, and increase stamina and physical endurance.


Guaraná seeds are the richest natural source of caffeine, containing up to 8% caffeine, which is about 2.5 times the amount found in coffee. They also contain theophylline and theobromine, which counters the over-stimulating effect of caffeine and makes it ideal for long-term use to boost energy. Theobromine is the same active “feel good” compound found in chocolate!


You can find guarana in many energy drinks and shots, but you have to be very careful as many companies use sugars or artificial sugars to give you an energy “high.” For a healthy version of a guarana-based energy drink, I recommend visiting your local health foods store and asking for a truly all-natural energy shot with no sugar added. 

Graviola: Immunity Booster


Graviola, also known as Brazilian paw paw, is a greenish-yellow fruit on the outside with white flesh on the inside. However, the most therapeutic parts of the graviola tree are the leaves, bark, roots and seeds, which have been used by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon to treat various illnesses for thousands of years. 


As a natural immunity booster, graviola has been used to kill parasites, ameliorate liver problems, reduce fevers, and treat colds and the flu. Scientists have studied graviola since the 1940s and most research has been centered around annonaceous acetogenins, a group of natural compounds that have anti-tumorous properties – meaning they fight various types of cancer cells – and thus are of great support to the immune system.


Graviola can be found in a tincture, powder or capsule form. You can also drink your graviola; health food stores sell graviola tea bags, or you can find graviola juice at Brazilian supermarkets.


Cat’s Claw: Pain Fighter


Known locally in South America as “uña de gato,” cat’s claw is a powerful, woody vine that gets its name from the claw-like thorns that grow on the vine. The plant is very strong and resilient; it’s this type of plant’s ability to fight with and dominate other plant species that gives it exceptional healing capabilities. 


Cat’s claw has been used medicinally by multiple indigenous tribes for thousands of years, with the earliest written documentation taking place about 2,000 years ago when it was used to treat arthritis and bone pain, cure deep wounds, control inflammation, and temper gastric ulcers. 


While cat’s claw is native to the Amazon, it also grows in the US, and it has been known to takeover gardens because of its aggressive nature. You can find dried cat’s claw vine in the raw at herb shops, or you can buy it in a tincture or capsule supplement form in health food stores.


Added to Alternative Medicine on Wed 05/04/2011