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Asia Pacific

Forest Pharmacies

It's hard to find a 24-hour pharmacy in the middle of the rainforest.

That's why many Asia-Pacific forest-dwelling communities have developed, over many generations, a wide array of traditional medicines. Very often, these are derived from their very own pharmacy: the forest.

Here are several of the plant palliatives that people in Asia-Pacific's tropical forests use to treat a variety of ailments:

  • Great Morinda (Morinda Citrifolia): Known to Indonesians as mengkudu, this member of the coffee family extends throughout southeast Asia. Its fruit is blended and boiled into a drink that is held to ease hypertension.
  • Malabar Melastone (Melastoma Malabathricum): This shrub is called pinang in Indonesia. The root, when boiled, is used to help women recover after childbirth.
  • Sungkai (Peronema canescens): An evergreen shrub found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, locals use Sungkai leaves to treat wounds.
  • Guduchi (Tinospora crispa): This deciduous vine goes by the Indonesian name of Akar sampai, and its range extends from northeastern India to the Philippines. When its root is boiled in water, the resulting drink is thought to reduce swelling and help treat malaria.
  • Stinging Tree (Dendrocnide peltata): The Salat, as this tree is known in Papua New Guinea, is covered in stinging hairs which can be quite painful to the touch. It's found on the island of New Guinea, where toxin from its needles is often injected into the skin to help treat aches and pains in muscles and joints.
  • Alexandrian Laurel (Calophyllum inophyllum): In Papua New Guinea, the leaves of this plant are heated and applied to wounds to ease pain.

When you buy timber products from Asia and the Pacific, your purchase can have an impact on forest communities and the plants on which they depend for traditional medicines. Learn more about how you can help protect the people and forests of this region.

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