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Setting up the drugstore
A Project looks to organize all the medicinal knowledge on herbs and plants of Piura’s Andes but from a scientific perspective.

By Nelson Peñaherrera | FACTORTIERRA.NET. Photos Courtesy by Fidel Torres.  Cambia a español

Above: extracting essential oil.
Below: Collecting samples at the countryside.

SULLANA, Peru – 1st Street, very near cars and vans stop those offer transportation service to Paita, is very known by who look for medicinal herbs.

It is about almost a block where buyers nicknamed mystically have got a impresing market. Their advertisement guarantees healing based on ancestral knowledge, and, luckily, there are people who assure medicine is effective.

However, excepting municipal inspection to raise fees, it is not known if their products are supervised by Health authority that allows to determine if cure is scientifically proven or its is just about ‘placebo effect’.

In the other hand, there is not an oficial guide to determine which herbs are safe , which stores are safe or what persons are reliable to administrate this kind of products.

And speaking in official terms, perhaps the only place across Piura State where safety and reliability are together is Reátegui Hospital, located in Piura City, managed by Peru’s social insurance, EsSalud.

This place is partof 36 centers implemented across the nation with Complementary Medicine area, in other words, a division specialized in recipe and offer natural cures or derivates without synthetic process. One of their promoters was Peru’s President Ollanta Humala himself and the program was highlighted worldwide.

The advantage is products are offered in a known place where you can claim if things go bad, the disadvantage is it only covers whom under an EsSalud’s vigent affiliation, that represents a minimum portion of the community. So what happens to the rest?

It is usual that science looks for farmers to expand its field, but what happens when process is upsided down, as Piura’s Andes farmers did? Photo Courtesy by Fidel Torres | © Mountain Institute.


Doctors or shamans?
Essalud has recently envolved in an articulated work with Ministry of Agriculture’s Agricultural Innovation National Program, Mountain Institute, National University of Trujillo and two farmers’ unions who live in southeast of Ayabaca county and north of Huancabamba county. Among both geographic spaces (next to Ecuador) are located cloudy forests and jalcas (pronunce ‘halkas’) or Piura’s moors ecosystems, those are recognized because catch, gather and deal the water ddrunk by the entire Piura state and surrounding regions. But what sometimes forgotten is its riches in botanic terms.

It’s the big drugstore of Andean peasant,” Biologist Fidel Torres states, who is an old buddy of us and leader of project on behalf of Mountain Institute, which goal will be disclosing wwhat are Piura highlands’ medicinal plants and what is their healing potential - even what are correct doses and the best moment to extract them. So speculation is avoided and scientific standards are provided to an ancestral knowledge which has been passed mainly by oral mean through generations.

Work team vision is more doctors recipe totally or partially treatments based on medicinal plants replacing or complementing synthetic medicine.

Does it mean we’ll have doctors or shamans?,” one of FACTORTIERRA.NET scientific editors asks. The reason is shamans or healers have been , traditionally, selfnamed oracles of that wisdom, which they mixed up with magic factors like the power of Piura’s Andean natural elements, especially Huarinjas (pronounce ‘Wareenhas’) Lakes, the most famous ceremonial healing centers of this South American part.

It’s a pretty place to visit bbut we can’t attribute it medicinal powers, considering the quantitty of people who take a bath there, some perhaps diseased,” our editor adds. “Maybe it’s about suggestion.”

Above: Part of the crew investigating the plants.
Below: A local expert in medicinal vegetables.

Sinergy and projections
Learning medicinal power of Piura’s Andean herbs and plants is going to last two years, until 2018. project was launched in Piura City, last April 15th, with another one in parallel which will look to obtain a potato sexual seed resistant to warm weather.

What makes this project different is the alliance of government entities, non-profit organizations and social unions. “It’s interesting now it is being funded more initiatives of this kind,” National University of Trujillo’s Proffessor Mayer Ganoza comments. He is promoting a post-grade on natural medicine since a couple of years ago.

Many of the assigned funds to these projects come managed from National Council of science and Technology,

Adding to medicinal contribution, Southeastern Ayabaca and Northern Huancabamba farmers are experiencing cosmetic potential of their vegetal resources, as they told to a Ministry of Environment’s TV show.

The strategy has no much magic but pretty progressive indeed: first all farmers’ knowledge will be gathered, it will be homologated under scientific standars those farmers also will work in, and all this systematized information will be offered to Ayabaca and Huancabamba local governments and health stanss as well. Later, it will be enlarged to the rest of the country, being sensitive to local particularities.

And this is not the only place where this type of research could break out, literally. In Tambogrande, there are experiments about regenerative potential of overo flower (
Cordia lutea) , that is medicinally used to treat kidney infections, even decreasing chemotherapies side effects.

In a cosmetic level, overo soap promises to get slow skin aging. The point is there is not a valid scientific research which supports it, neither a sanitarian record. Turning this up, it may be included in any catalogue of products to offer the world, like the newly food & beverage import-export firm
Pacific Trade International’s manager Francesco Navarrete expects.

With reports of Liliana Alzamora from Tambogrande. Thanks to Edward Valencia in Marcavelica for contributing us.
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