Earth Hour is about more than shutting the power off — it is about raising awareness to alternatives that can make a difference in our lives.


Just about everything can be “Green” these days; from the clothes we wear, the food we eat to the cars we drive. Ever wondered what exactly it was you were letting into your blood stream last time you popped open a bottle of headache pills or took a sip of some vitamin-loaded energy drink?


Plants, trees and flowers have been used in medicinal cures for the past 50,000 years, considerably ahead of western medicine, which only became a common practice some 200 years ago. Many of the drugs we take today were at some point or another derived from plant sources. Which one can we trust the most, the downright hard facts of chemistry or the miracles of nature? Ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin tells Metro about his quest to tap into nature’s gift of medicine and his work with the Amazonian tribe, the Shamans.


“The problem is that people have too many misconceptions when it comes to medicine and science. It’s common for people to think that if you don’t have a degree or a last name, then you know nothing about healing. That if you’re wearing a white coat and have an established post as a doctor then you know everything there is to know about healing. Both are misconceptions,” explains Plotkin who believes that people need to make a clear distinction in their brains between indigenous and western techniques.


Plotkin believes there is a certain arrogance linked to western medicine practices and highlights its’ three interlinking fields as technology, chemistry and the invasive procedure of surgery. Ethnobotany, as practiced by the Shaman tribe is based on the chemistry of plants and insects and spiritual practices. “This chemical and spiritual combination is what sets it apart,” urges Plotkin, ”according to the Indians, there is no such things as an incurable disease. Yet, had you had asked a western doctor 100 years ago if tuberculosis was curable, his answer would have been no.”

“I injured my arm after playing racketball. I tried every cure possible from cortisone to ultra sound- nothing worked. I went to see a Shaman, he gave me a mixture of plants to drink and it was over. These guys are masters.”