Out of the Amazon
Better Nutrition|October 2021
Some of nature’s most powerful healers come from the depths of the South American rainforest. Here’s why—and what you should look for in supplements.
VERA TWEED

An herb from the rainforest may seem more exotic than one from an American or European environment, but that’s not the only difference. Because of its diversity, the rainforest produces herbs that are naturally more potent healers.

“More than half of the world’s estimated 10 million species of plants, animals, and insects live only in the tropical rainforests, which make up about 15 percent of the planet,” says Leslie Taylor, ND, author of Avenca: Nature’s Secret for Weight Loss and other books about rainforest herbs. “The diversity of plant species in the Amazon,” she adds, “is the highest on earth.”

All of this diversity creates an immensely challenging environment. An abundance of different species of mold, fungi, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and insects—not to mention animals—can attack and kill a plant at any time. In response, plants must work harder to defend themselves, which they do by producing chemical substances.

“These chemical defenses—much like an immune system for plants—include a wealth of very potent, highly active plant chemicals that provide medicinal uses for humankind,” explains Taylor.

In short, because they work so hard to survive, rainforest herbs are especially rich sources of healing substances. These six herbs are Taylor’s top choices for different situations.

Avenca for Weight Loss Used to treat respiratory and other ailments for nearly 2,000 years, advance is a type of fern. Lab and animal research has shown that it contains an array of substances that support a balanced immune system, reduce harmful inflammation, and promote weight loss.

Taylor has found that taking Avenca can lead to significant weight loss without dietary or lifestyle changes (although a healthy diet and exercise are always optimal). The herb reduces the absorption of sugar, starch, and fat during digestion; leads to less storage of fat; and increases the release of fat from fat cells.

Taylor recommends taking Avenca with 16 ounces of water, 10–15 minutes before each meal and snack. The dosage depends on the size of the meal. Take 1.5–2 grams before a large meal; 1 gram before an average meal; or 500 mg before a small meal or between-meal snack.

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