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By Sandro Medina Tovar
Regarding the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 20), researcher Norma Ramos Cevallos in conversation with El Comercio noted the little mention made of medicinal plants native to our country.
For four years she has been investigating a plant known as chiric sanango (‘Brunfelsia grandiflora D. Don’), which is frequently used by the people of the Amazon to heal wounds such as leishmaniasis or uta. “After the study we are certain that it is certainly a good healer, but it does not cure uta as many think; in my work the chemical composition of the methanolic extract of this plant was analyzed and learned ”, explained the also professor at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM).
This research recently earned him recognition in the fourteenth edition of the "Hipólito Unanue Award", in the area of Pharmacy and Biochemistry. Dr. Norma Ramos Cevallos is a researcher at the Juan de Dios Guevara Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Natural Resources of the UNMSM.
Little is mentioned about the effects of climate change and medicinal plants ...
This situation is worrying, since these plants have a great pharmacological activity. They are undoubtedly among the most affected by climate change. The human being has a great responsibility for what is currently happening in our environment. There should be greater communication strategies that sensitize society as a whole to preserve what we have.
Over time, how much do we know scientifically about these plants?
There is knowledge, but not as we would like. In our country there is also little diffusion about the benefits and properties of medicinal plants. Certainly in the universities of San Marcos, Cayetano Heredia, in the Amazon, as well as in the cities of Arequipa and Cusco, research work is carried out, but there is still much to know.
What should be done to promote this line of research?
Basically granting more financial funds so that the research carried out in this field does not remain in a stage. We must aim, for example, towards biotrade and boost the pharmaceutical industry in the country. At the moment, the incentives we have to do research, mainly in national universities, are insufficient.
Regarding your work with the chiric sanango, what is the contribution of this study?
Basically I have scientifically shown that it has a healing effect, which is why the inhabitants of the area use it frequently thinking that they are cured of the uta, when really only the wound heals; Now that we know with certainty this goodness of chiric sanango, it is necessary to find out other pharmacological properties that it may have as well as to really know its degree of toxicity, since it is used for preparations such as ayahuasca. This requires further studies. For this research we have taken plants from the San Martín region.
What is your opinion that EsSalud promotes the use of medicinal plants?
For approximately 10 years, EsSalud has tended to rely on alternative medicine, which is interesting, but I think we must be cautious with its use, because not all patients adapt to this type of medicine. Further research is needed to find out its properties and varying degrees of toxicity. As with conventional drugs, if we take it in excess, we have adverse reactions. In no way should we ignore scientific rigor.