Rainforest Disappearance

The destruction of rainforests—which cover just six percent of the Earth’s surface—is not only eradicating vital habitat for half the earth’s species, some of which will go extinct, but it’s also threatening the forests’ botanical treasures, too. Some of the drugs derived from rainforest plants include Quinine from the cinchona tree, used to treat malaria; Novocaine and its successor Lidocaine, local anesthetics from the coca plant; Cortisone, derived from wild yams, and Diosgenin, an active ingredient in birth control pills; and Turbocuarine, a muscle relaxant used in surgery and to treat disorders like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, taken from a variety of plants as an extract known as curare, which also was used for arrow poisons. These drugs largely have been replaced by synthetic drugs, but all were inspired by rainforest plants.

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