As we lose more and more of our last ancient forests, we also lose unimaginable medical potential, say two renowned scientists.
Old-growth forests are treasure chests of biological compounds. It can take 5,000 years to create the rich, complex ecosystems we call “old-growth forests”.
Yet within mere days, ancient forests and everything within them can be — and are — destroyed.
Paul Stamets lives on a West Coast island and investigates the medicinal properties of fungus.
“Our research over recent years has identified strains of polypore mushrooms which have potent antiviral properties, especially Agarikon… a species which grows almost exclusively in these native forests.”
Please find his letter attached.
Last month, scientist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger also sent a letter of support to the Rainforest Flying Squad: “These giants of the universe, with their unique DNA, represent a living library of medicine for the citizens of the world,” she said in her letter.
“They hold taxines for the treatment of breast cancers, taxodiones for prostate cancer, salicylates for pain relief, thujone for cardiac regulation, prostaglandins for arterial health.”
She added that science is just beginning to investigate the multitude of bacteriophages* found in the rich, fertile soil of old-growth forests. Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist, medical biochemist and world-renowned author.
Our lives at this time are severely limited by the current pandemic. Surely we can see the urgency of saving the old growth forests some call ‘Mother Nature’s medicine chest’.
Old-growth forests hold at least some of these answers. These incredibly rich, fertile ecosystems contain plants, fungi, bacteria, and microorganisms that grow nowhere else.
Indigenous peoples everywhere found their medicines in nature. Many of the medicines we already use came from trees or forest: aspirin and some cancer treatments among many others.
To cut down these forests is to destroy potential medicines. They will not be replaced within our lifetimes, or even our childrens’.
Beresford-Kroeger was one of two women scientists who inspired the character of Patricia Wentworth in the Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, The Overstory.
Read her letter here: