Posts tagged ‘biodiversity’

September 20, 2012

Biodiversity and Our Health

Do you think that the loss of biodiversity, the extinction of animals or the disappearance of plants won’t affect our everyday life significantly? Have you thought about how many things we use on a daily basis actually depend on these? Did you know that for example the most important everyday medicines are derived from plants, so you may not be able to get an aspirin if they disappear?

About 50,000 to 70,000 plant species are used for both traditional and modern medicine, and according to some sources half of all synthetic drugs are of natural origin. There are currently about 120 chemical substances from plants, which are used in various important drugs. Modern medicine made from plants are used for the treatment of diabetes, cancer and cardiac conditions, with about 42 per cent of anti-cancer ones coming from natural sources. Some common drugs derived from plants include aspirin, atropine, digoxin, ephedrine, morphine, and
quinine – amongst many others.

Traditional medicine is still used by about 60 per cent of the world’s population and it’s very significant in many local healthcare systems, like in China.

As an example, the drug zinconotide is developed from the peptides of cone snails, who live in the endangered South Asian coral reefs. This medicine is great for treating cancer patients’ pain, for whom the generally used opium is not effective any more. With the disappearance of their habitat, the coral reefs, these animals may also be in danger and so is the medicine.

The Australian southern gastric brooding frogs on the other hand have already become extinct. They would have been very useful for the research into stomach ulcer, as the female frogs raised their babies inside their stomach, but this opportunity is now gone.

And not only the frogs and cone snails but also many other animals, even bears, sharks, horseshoe crabs are threatened by the loss of biodiversity, which might hold secrets for combating various diseases.

Understanding what serious consequences biodiversity loss could hold for us may help us realise that we should take care of all plants and animals, as they may eventually save our lives.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse 

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