PLANT SOURCE DISCOVERIES
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.
Medicinal plants have been identified and used throughout human history. Plants found in the jungles make many chemical compounds that are for biological functions, including defence against insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals. At least 12,000 such compounds have been isolated so far; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total have been discovered in jungle environments. Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effect on the human body through processes identical to those already well understood for the chemical compounds in conventional drugs; thus herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. This enables jungle herbal medicines to have beneficial pharmacology, and gives them the same potential as conventional pharmaceutical drugs.
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