The South Pacific has an islandstate of Samoa. About 187 thousand people live on this piece of land, and many of them are treated with local plants. For example, for many years they have been grinding parts of the small Psychotria insularum tree into powder and using it as a remedy for wound healing, pain relief, treating skin infections, and so on. Recently, local researcher Seeseei Molimau-Samasoni decided to study the composition of this plant and find out exactly how it treats a number of dangerous diseases. It turned out that the tree really has healing properties and in the future it will be possible to make medicines from it. It is hoped that it will also help manage the symptoms of the coronavirus.
Traditional medicine and science
Intriguing properties of a tropical plantwas reported in Science Alert. It is known as Psychotria insularum and grows along the coast and in the forests of Samoa. Outwardly, it is unremarkable, about 2 meters long, white flowers and shiny red berries. The inhabitants of the island have long been making a homogeneous crushed mass out of it - the resulting drug is known as "matalafi". It is used to relieve inflammation, swelling, wounds, infections, and so on.
There were many superstitions around this plant,so I really wanted to know if I could provide a scientific basis for the properties of the traditional medicine of the Samoan people, - shared Sisi Molimau-Samasoni with The Guardian.
The healing properties of a tropical plant
Within the framework of scientific work, the researcherchopped the plant in a blender and sent the mixture to a laboratory located in New Zealand. Scientists have found out how the constituent parts affect organisms using the example of baker's yeast. In the course of observations, they found out that the medicine Matalafi has the ability to remove heavy metals from the body. The substances rutin and nicotiflorin are responsible for this, which bind iron and provide chelation - removal of heavy metals from the body. This property can be helpful in iron overload that sometimes occurs with blood transfusions.
In theory, scientists can use the discoveredthe effect of a Samoan tree for making drugs to fight cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, cardiovascular problems and diabetes. But at the moment this is only a guess.
In addition, the researchers found that the Matalafihas an anti-inflammatory effect. The effect was comparable to that of ibuprofen, a popular drug for lowering body temperature and relieving pain. But they noted that the plant should not be expected to be better than the drug because it simply has a similar effect.
There is reason to believe that a tropical plantcan help with obesity treatment. It sounds complicated, but scientists have found that one of its components is susceptible to the RIM101 gene. It plays an important role in metabolism and is a common cause of weight gain. And finally, the rutin found in the plant is able to suppress the resumption of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the causative agent of COVID-19. In general, from the constituent parts of a plant, in theory, it is possible to make medicines for many diseases.
See also: This tropical plant has confused scientists for 50 years. What's his secret?
Plant based medicines
This is readily believed, because many ofthe medicines available today are of herbal origin. From 1981 to 2019, more than 1,560 medicines were approved and 64% of them were created from natural products extracted from plants. Scientists have been working with traditional healers of the island of Samoa for over 30 years and this union is already yielding good results. For example, it was found that the plant Homalanthus nutans contains a substance prostratinpotentially able to cope with HIV.
Interesting fact: collaboration between scientists and folkhealers is a way to combat biopiracy. This is the name of the phenomenon when people use the knowledge of Aboriginal people for commercial purposes. Some peoples know about the healing properties of little-studied plants and this knowledge is often stolen by intruders, while not paying compensation to the healers for their help.
In essence, plant therapy iskind of traditional medicine. My colleague Lyubov Sokovikova spoke about this phenomenon in detail - some of the folk methods can be life-threatening. If you have something to say, write in our Telegram chat.