Cat's Claw Root

The Amazon rainforest, the largest rainforest on earth, has been targeted by pharmaceutical companies for over a century as a rich source of new plant-derived drugs. The Amazon rain forest is even more so a treasure trove of botanicals for the dietary supplement industry. This rain forest stretches over a billion acres in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and the eastern Andean area of Ecuador and Peru. It is home to hundreds of thousands of plants, many of which are used as folk medicines.

Endocrinologists have known for a long time that testosterone increases the body’s ratio of lean muscle mass to fat. In both animals and humans, tongkat ali extract increases muscle mass. In a study of men, half of the subjects ingested tongkat ali extract and half did not. In an eight-week physical training program the men who consumed tongkat ali extract experienced greater gains in muscle mass and strength than those who did not. This demonstrates the powerful anabolic properties of tongkat ali. Instead of turning to the use of dangerous and potentially lethal steroids, perhaps more athletes will opt for tongkat ali. In Malaysia, many professional field hockey players use tongkat ali extract as an androgen and swear to its performance-enhancing effects.

Periodically a newly recognized botanical ingredient comes to market, which offers significant health benefits for topical use. Oil of tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) is such an ingredient. Since the 1930s tamanu oil has been studied in hospitals and by researchers in Asia, Europe and the Pacific islands. The results of this research are impressive.

I AM A MEDICINE HUNTER AND EXPLORER IN RESIDENCE IN THE MEDICINAL PLANT PROGRAM AT UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AT Amherst. As a medicine hunter, I seek natural, plant-based remedies of high value to health and help to make them more widely distributed and better known. My research generally takes place in faraway locales, ranging from Siberia to the South Pacific. In those areas I gain an understanding of traditional medicines, thanks to generous sharing of time and expertise on the part of local experts. Indigenous natives, harvesters, cultivators, herbal healers, traders, processors, botanists, chemists and physicians contribute to my understanding of a plant, its place in culture and its known health benefits. I have chronicled some of my work in various books, including Kava, Medicine Hunting In Paradise (Park Street Press), Tales From The Medicine Trail (Rodale) and Psyche Delicacies (Rodale). My book, Hot Plants (St. Martin's Press), focuses on my work with effective sex-enhancing botanicals around the world.

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