The current population of the island of New Guinea is about eleven million. Human habitation on the island dates to as early as 50,000 BC and first settlement possibly dating back to 60,000 years ago. The island is presently populated by almost a thousand different tribal groups and a near equivalent number of separate languages, which makes New Guinea the most linguistically diverse area in the world. Ethnologue's 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea and 257 languages of Irian Jaya, total 1073 languages, with 12 languages over-lapping. For all of its diversity, the people are happy and there is a sense of well being.
The discovery and use of jungle plants as medicines pre-dates written human history. Ethnobotany, the study of traditional human uses of plants, is recognized as an effective way to discover future medicines. In 2015, researchers identified 122 compounds used in modern medicine which were derived from traditional plant sources; 80% of these have had a traditional use identical or related to the current use of the active elements of the plant. Some of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians are derived from these plants that have a long history of use as herbal-remedies including aspirin, digoxin, quinine and opium. The use of herbs to treat disease is widespread in non-industrialized societies. The annual global export value of pharmaceutical plants in 2012 was over US $2.2 billion.
Research at the UCLA AIDS Institute focused on the function of cycloastragenol in the aging process of immune cells, and its effects on the cells’ response to viral infections. It appears to increase the production of telomerase, an enzyme that mediates the replacement of short bits of DNA known as telomeres, which play a key role in cell replication, including in cancer processes.
The cycle of natural events inevitably catches up with the reality of the moment. In this case, after centuries of these magnificent Easter Island monoliths staring off into the distance, the rain is eroding away the island and as it washes into the ocean the surrounding coral reefs are being buried under the silt. Coral reefs that happen to contained enzymes which are the building blocks of medicines that hold the cure for Alzheimers disease. Through the innovative minds of the Cousteau Society, a potential disaster will be avoided. They’re planting 1.4 million trees on the island to arrest the erosion which, if left untouched, will fundamentally destroy all of the surrounding coral reefs and any potential for finding a cure.
It has been observed that some species of Astragalus – namely Astragalus membranaceus have associated medicinal usage in traditional Chinese medicine, ranging from broader use of protection against disease to prevention of cancer and diabetes. Antioxidants, as well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities are also common amongst some Astragalus species.
Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae and the subfamily Faboideae. It’s the largest genus of plants in terms of described species. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed and goat’s-thorn. Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like.