Researchers discover ancient flower that naturally treats diabetes; Big Pharma immediately begins developing synthetic version
Israeli researchers have discovered an amazing plant native to their region that apparently helps treat type-2 diabetes naturally without the need for drugs or injections. But rather than promote the actual plant as a therapeutic option for patients, the team is instead working with drug companies to isolate the plant’s “active ingredient” so it can be synthesized and turned into a patented, corporate-owned pharmaceutical drug.
The plant is known as Chiliadenus iphionoides, or sharp varthemia, and it has a stocky, furry-looking stem that produces spiny yellow flowers. In both cellular and animal models, extracts from this aromatic shrub have been shown to exhibit antidiabetic activity, helping to improve sugar absorption into muscle and fat cells, as well as reduce blood sugar levels.
Based on these powerful outcomes, as reported in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, sharp varthemia appears to be a godsend for people who suffer from diabetes mellitus, which the American Diabetes Association says is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. today. But you won’t find the plant at your local CVS or Walgreens pharmacy, and you likely never will.
Whole-plant sharp varthemia can’t be patented, so drug companies will steal one component in order to capitalize on it
It’s not that sharp varthemia isn’t effective at treating diabetes; it is, otherwise the researchers who discovered it wouldn’t have stated the following in their study:
“Chiliadenus iphionoides extract increased insulin secretion in s cells as well as glucose uptake in adipocytes and skeletal myotubes. The extract also displayed hypoglycemic activity in the diabetic sand rat. … Chiliadenus iphionoides exhibits considerable anti-diabetic activity, although the mechanism of action remains to be determined.”
This is quite clearly a positive clinical outcome, but it doesn’t do much to fatten the wallets of drug industry CEOs and executives who only profit when medicinal components are isolated and synthesized. Since natural plants can’t be patented (at least not yet), there’s no money to be made from selling sharp varthemia in whole-plant form.
Instead, scientists will have to figure out a way to steal the plant’s “active ingredient,” which in and of itself is a misnomer, since plants contain a host of bioactive components that work synergistically to promote healing. The complexity of this synergy is far beyond what any human scientist could ever comprehend, of course, hence the mysteries of the natural healing arts. But none of this matters when there’s profits to be made.
Bio-piracy is the essence of the pharmaceutical industry; natural plants and herbs work better, but they don’t generate billions in profits!
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In the case of sharp varthemia, scientists working on behalf of drug industry moguls will identify what they believe to be the plant’s “active ingredient,” which they will then use to develop a drug that can be patented and sold for billions of dollars. And if anyone tries to sell the plant in whole form as medicine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will surely swoop in and declare sharp varthemia to be an “unapproved drug.”
Such a scenario is bio-piracy at its finest, robbing nature of her lifeblood in order to turn pieces of it into a for-profit, “sick care” health management pill or vaccine, and it’s the foundation upon which the pharmaceutical industry is built.
It’s exactly what drug companies did with the Madagascar periwinkle, a traditional medicine native to Africa that works as a natural appetite suppressant. It’s also been shown effective in the treatment of leukemia which, once drug companies found out about this, resulted in components of the plant being bio-pirated and sold for huge profit.
“We need to do more in developing countries regarding informing people about biopiracy,” said Yoke Ling Chee of the Third World Network, as quoted by DW.de. “But we also need to create more awareness among consumers so when they use products they know that biopiracy might be involved.”
Image Credit: Chiliadenus iphionoides (sharp varthemia), a Middle Eastern shrub found to be effective in treating diabetes. (CC BY-SA Eitan F., Wikimedia Commons)
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