Natural affinity between medicine and biodiversity Essay
Human beings are an essential feature of the biodiversity of planet Earth - Natural affinity between medicine and biodiversity Essay introduction. The rest of creation or evolving living things are next in line, according to the theory of evolution. Both creation and evolution theories account for the essential role of biodiversity in medicine nevertheless. Despite the contradictions in their tones, both acknowledge the fact that human beings are made with the very essence that can save their lives during the most unusual times. Indeed, there are countless things in creation with curative powers. God and the theory of evolution account for this healing power of nature to heal mankind. This paper explores the essential relationship between medicine and biodiversity based on research.
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The relationship between biodiversity and medicine is obvious, irrefutable and without contradictions. Nature has given us countless medicines. As a matter of fact, there is no other source of medicines. Nature is irreplaceable in the case of medicine. The latter relies on the former as much as patients in hospitals rely on doctors. Without nature, there is no medicine. The medicines that are not based in nature are not possible. Hence, biodiversity has a relationship with medicine that is one hundred percent indispensable.
Indeed, the bond between biodiversity and medicine is one that cannot be shaken, for as long as there is a biosphere. Biodiversity, or the riches of nature, have developed unnumbered medicines for us thus far. Even today, scientists are working day in day out in different parts of the world to get the most out of biodiversity on behalf of the world of medicine. Each new creature discovered in the oceans and on the surface of the Earth adds to excitement in world of medical research; representing a new chance to discover medicines. Animal testing, although controversial, is also about the fundamental relationship between man and nature; and also between biodiversity and medicine.
The basic truth is: man is a part of nature. Therefore, he has always looked for cures around himself in nature. Nature, for its own purposes, has not disappointed man in this regard. Rather, man has been discovering medicine after medicine as a result of searching through biodiversity. According to a latest report on the benefit of nature to the world of medicine:
For thousands of years, people have derived medicines and cures from plants and
animals. And one of the latest creatures to offer humans a new pharmaceutical formula is the cone snail…
George Miljanich is with Neurex, a company in Menlo Park, California that developing a drug called SNX111:
“SNX111 originally derived from the venom of sea snails and those snails have evolved a mechanism to paralyze their prey with this venom by injecting it. SNX 111 was one of dozens of components in the snail venom that are each targeted specifically against different molecules of the prey nervous system….”
The venom’s components are tested by applying them to human nerve cells under a microscope, and then measuring the electrical response.
“We’ve relied on a time honored tradition in pharmaceutical science, that is, using natural products as a source for novel drugs. SNX111 was isolated along with many other components of the snail venom because we knew that all of those components would suppress the activity of the nervous system, and that we felt had great medical benefit… The world’s medicine chest is filled with drugs that have been derived from plants, animals and microorganisms. SNX 111 is just another one of those. A new drug could come tomorrow from a pond in your back yard or a tropical rain forest or the coral reefs where cone snails exist, for instance. There’s no way to know that. The only way we can maximize the potential for new drugs coming from these exotic sources is to preserve as many of these ecological niches as possible” (“Snail Medicine,” 1996).
As we know, it is not easy for all of us to begin unearthing medicines in our patches of grass. Even so, the fact is that it is possible to think on those terms. All human beings could turn out to be scientists in nature, perhaps as another evolutionary step that we would be taking in future with our brains gaining greater knowledge about nature than ever before. But, even if all humans do not find medicines in nature, it is not possible that all of them have not used the riches of nature to heal themselves at one point or another. Moreover, nature would keep on supplying us with healing powers, as though nature itself has turned out to be a scientific laboratory, if not the most important scientist that we have ever employed. After all, man has taken care of nature and is therefore a legitimate demander of the curative powers of biodiversity.
The answers to some of the most perplexing, global questions, e.g. ‘Would we find cures for AIDS and Cancer?’ are dependent on whether our research in biodiversity continues. Thankfully, scientists are continuing to look for cures in nature. What is more, scientists are very optimistic people. According to them, it is one hundred percent possible for us to suddenly come across a miracle sea creature or land plant that would cure AIDS in a jiffy, if not one or two injected doses of a drug that incorporates the miraculous healing powers of the biological creature that is discovered ‘by chance.’ This is another example of the potency of the bond between medicine and biodiversity. The bond cannot be done away with as long as there is life on Earth. Even if human beings were to suddenly go through a period of collective amnesia – when all scientific theories and older medicines have been forgotten – the new man, as he appears, would use biodiversity to begin finding medicines all over again. Therefore, it is one hundred percent correct for scientists to continue searching for more and more animals, plants, and other creation for their medicinal value. ‘We come from the Earth and return to the Earth.’ This is the reason why the Earth supplies us with essential things to heal our physical systems in order to allow us to complete our turn in the evolutionary cycle along with the things of nature that act as necessary support systems in our case.
The definition of biodiversity includes human beings. Of course, it is correct to include human beings in the definition of biodiversity of the planet. Human beings are also quite diverse with regards to their colors, the shape of their eyes in various parts of the world, etc. It is easy to imagine that a species that is more developed than human beings would look upon us with our differences in colors, etc., similar to the identification and categorization systems we use with dogs and other animals. Moreover, a species that is more evolved than humans would also be included in the definition of biodiversity, if indeed it happens to share our biosphere.
As a matter of fact, almost all creation on the Earth is included in biodiversity – “it includes animal species, plant species, genes, ecosystems and landscapes” (“Biodiversity”). We are also a part of the ecosystem, and when we lose a certain part of this system due to global warming or for another reason, it means that we have additionally lost a basic source of medicines. According to another report on the relationship between medicine and biodiversity:
Modern researchers are looking more and more towards our natural biological resources. Many animal and plant species have been useful in the past for finding new treatments and cures. One of the most famous examples is digitalin which is derived from the foxglove and is used to treat heart conditions. Another is vincristine, taken from the rosy periwinkle of Madagascar and used to treat childhood leukaemia. Many more medicines have been derived from species found in rainforest areas and it is possible that many species could hold the answer to future medical cures – so the more species that are conserved, the more chance there is of discovering something of medical value (“Biodiversity”).
Nowadays we are experts at contaminating nature with manmade chemicals. And so, medicines are regularly produced by combining nature with heated chemical processes. Incidentally, those chemical processes are also nature-based. Yet, we are often quick to separate the manmade things from nature’s gifts. Actually, man and nature could never be separated. Apart from natural resource, all other resources utilized by man, e.g. mental resources, are also nature-based.
In the villages and small economies of the world, people are more reliant on biodiversity for their necessary medicines. Instead of requiring chemical processes to change the facts of nature; villagers of Africa, China and India, for instance, are known to use nature’s gifts directly on their wounds. Herbal medicine is a popular form of healing for this reason. More importantly, as the scientific advancements are seeing no end; the world has entered a stage where there is a need to get closer also to the values of nature by investing more heavily in herbal medicines and ‘green’ products for health care. The herbal medicine industry is booming, in fact, in some places more than others (Roe).
Roe writes about the increasing demand for herbal medicines in the Western world. In her article, “Biodiversity – Harsh Medicine,” she exposes the herbal medicine industry through the eyes of a Bulgarian “band of medicinal herb gatherers.” Also according to her report, the herbal medicine trade is so profitable that it could soon lead to extinctions of a number of plant and animal species. The wanderers in the national parks of Bulgaria are doing well to supply the recently doubled demand of herbal medicine in Western Europe. In so doing, however, they are threatening our ecosystem. As it is, there is no end to the consumption demands of the people of Western Europe. Hence, Roe suggests that the exploitation of biodiversity for industrial needs must be curtailed. Herbal medicine should not become an industry that cannot sustain itself when confronted with important, and sometimes ethical – environmental facts and decisions.
Roe reports that the act of gathering of herbs to supply the ever growing herbal medicine industry is “unsustainable” business. Soon enough, we would run out of the necessary delicacies we have come to identify with healing powers. Then again, if we take proper measures to sustain herbal medicine, along with the search for more medicines in biodiversity in general; we are doing what we had set out to do in the world of medical research. There should be no end to finding medicines in nature. Nature’s gifts are unique in that they are free. Yet, unsustainable consumption is a pattern in certain parts of the world. It is feared that unnecessary trade will harm the biodiversity rather than enrich it.
So, although Roe’s argument is correct, and there are prolonged debates centered on environmental issues with reference to our consumption habits; the fact of medicine is that it remains a necessity for our general well-being. We all want to breathe when we cannot find the capacity in our lungs to do so; and hence, we look for cures in nature to relieve us of our sufferings for good. Perhaps, therefore, keeping Roe’s argument in view we ought to relieve ourselves also of unnecessary consumption patterns. Financial health breads high consumption patterns. While financial health is a good thing, unnecessary consumption patterns have consequences, e.g. the persistent trade deficit faced by the United States economy in our times.
The reason why West Europeans are using herbal medicines to the extreme is that these medicines are known to have fewer side effects than the regular chemical-nature based medicines that are internationally produced in factories. Although herbal medicines are also processed in factories for the West European consumers, these medicines are known to blend better with the human bodily system, and thereby cure a number of illnesses without the integrative problems that are often experienced as a result of chemical based drug consumption. Still, it is not wise to overdo the consumption of herbal medicines. If West Europeans do not stop over-consuming herbal medicines, perhaps the medicines would ultimately begin to show side effects that are similar to those experienced through the over-use of regular medicines. In fact, such a process would be identified as an evolutionary mechanism for stopping the Earth from dying.
Likewise, there is no dearth of theories in the world of medical science in biodiversity. There are infinite cures awaiting discovery by bio-researchers. As a matter of fact, nature holds a huge number of secrets that we never imagined existed. Man’s ignorance is no excuse. Hence, it is an important practice in our modern-day existence for scientists to continue searching for medicines in biodiversity. Everything around man is a part of him. Knowing this to be true, man need only look around himself for cures to his most pressing problems. Nature is creative machinery, if not the only scientist that man can see and learn from. Besides, biodiversity still holds the key to our most pressing concerns in medicine. Yes, we shall find a cure for AIDS in nature, in the diversity of species all around us. If we do not find a cure for AIDS, it would only be because the biosphere failed to exist for us. In other words, for as long as we know the world as it stands today, there shall be a strong relationship between biodiversity and medicine. We shall persistently search for cures to illnesses in the riches of nature. We would only stop when we are forced to stop by way of nonexistence.
Biodiversity. Retrieved 16 June 2007, from
Roe, Sarah. Biodiversity – Harsh Medicine. Retrieved 16 June 2007, from
Snail Medicine: Biodiversity. (1996, April). Pulse of the Planet. Retrieved 16 June 2007, from