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Chimpanzees May Self-Medicate With Plants, Using the Forest as a Pharmacy

Chimpanzees may be using the forest like their own personal pharmacy. When they’re sick, the primates appear to seek out and eat plants with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, according to new research.

Observers have long suspected that chimpanzees use plants to self-medicate. Now, a new paper published last week in the journal PLOS ONE offers more evidence in support of this idea.

Researchers followed two groups of wild chimpanzees through Uganda’s Budongo Forest for eight months. They recorded what the animals ate, as well as whether they were sick—which they determined by checking their feces for parasites, testing their urine for elevated levels of immune cells and looking for wounds.

Shrinking Forests, Emerging Diseases

Dona Dora’s man is away from home a lot more these days. It didn’t used to be like that.

He leaves early, sometimes on foot, but increasingly on his bicycle, and heads into the forests surrounding Belém, the capital of Brazil’s Para province. He keeps his eyes open especially for five medicinal plants that are always in demand — sucuúba (Himatanthus sucuuba), copaíba (Copaifera spp.), andiroba (Carapa guianensis), barbatimão (Stryphnodendron spp.) and pãu d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae).

Fifteen years earlier, he would have found all five within hours and been back for lunch, but times have changed. These days, medicinal forest plants in high demand are becoming harder to find as forests that have stood strong for millennia are cleared to make way for grazing pastures for millions of cattle owned by meat companies, or to grow soybeans to feed cattle and poultry.

Now, Dona Dora’s man can spend a whole day and not find more than a few plants. It might be late at night before he gets back home.

What is a Healthy Forest?

Healthy forests are beneficial for people and wildlife.

When forests are healthy, they produce enough food, water and shelter to support local wildlife, clean the air, reduce erosion into nearby streams and lakes, and are less susceptible to large-scale high-severity wildfires.

But what does a healthy forest look like?

Summer Lajoie: The Simplicity of Creation

Summer Lajoie merges artistry with nature, creating ephemeral art that captures the fleeting beauty of the natural world. Each creation reflects a moment of profound connection and presence.

For Summer, art is more than just a form of expression; it’s a vital ritual. Inspired by the transient works of Andy Goldsworthy, she engages with the environment, crafting art from the elements she encounters. This process focuses less on the final product and more on the act of creation itself.

Dr. Tamberly Conway: Nurturing Forests & Human Health

Dr. Tamberly Conway, Founder and CEO of Conservation Conexions, is not just a conservationist for our forests but also a leader in the realm of forest therapy.

During her career, Tamberly has worn many hats. From a dedicated Forest Service employee to an Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Certified Guide, entwining her passion for the natural world within each role she has taken on.

She spent her time with the U.S. Forest Service Conservation Education Program advocating for forest health and human wellbeing, primarily for and within diverse communities. In December of 2019, Tamberly left the USFS to fully dedicate herself to Forest Therapy and its ability to connect and nurture both land and human health.

Japanese “Forest Medicine” – Using Nature to Heal Yourself

The fountain of youth is a forest. Trees cast off years and grant health and cheer, or so transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson claimed in his 1836 essay “Nature.” ”In the woods,” he wrote, “I feel that nothing can befall me [. . .] which nature cannot repair.”

Indeed, research shows that trees really do have healing powers. For one thing, they release antimicrobial essential oils, called phytoncides, that protect trees from germs and have a host of health benefits for people.

Untold Secrets of Healing Forests

Tens of thousands of unexplored forest plants may hold the key to new therapeutic drugs for curing a planet rocked by pandemics and new diseases.

They called it Project 523 after its start date, 23 May, 1967. Back then, it was classified as a top-secret state mission, blessed by Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. The Vietnam War was in full swing, and China’s ally Ho Chi Minh, the Prime Minister of North Vietnam, was losing large numbers of soldiers to malaria. He petitioned China to help find a cure for it.

About 600 scientists, including military personnel, scientists and practitioners of Western and traditional Chinese medicine, were convened and divided into three teams: one for conducting clinical studies, one for looking into traditional Chinese medicine and the third for developing synthetic compounds. Among their goals was a cure for chloroquine-resistant malaria.

What is Forest Bathing?

Check out this video by Cascadia Forest Therapy to discover the magical healing powers of nature.

Daniel Beltrá: Capturing Earth’s Beauty and Humanity’s Impact

Daniel Beltrá, a Madrid-born photographer now calling Seattle, Washington, his creative haven; has a distinctive approach to his photography. His most captivating works are large-scale photographs taken from the air, providing viewers with a sweeping panorama of our world’s wonders and woes.

His unwavering passion for conservation can be seen from this elevated vantage point as he skillfully reveals the contrast of nature’s magnificence and humanity’s destructive footprint.

Why Our Health Depends on the Environment