Bush teas are very popular in Guyana and a visit to Bourda market will show you how much. There are quite a number of stalls selling tisanes, capadulla bark, and various other herbs that they assert will reduce hypertension, reduce diabetes, help in slimming and other such claims.
The University of West Indies has observed that ‘bush teas’ could prove harmful if consumed in excess, in view of the toxins they contain in addition to the beneficial constituents.
Around 33,000 species of medicinal plants occur in the Amazon and of these, the small percentage that is ‘exploited’ is expected to be able to yield Suriname around $2.4 billion a year . Guyana too has huge biodiversity that is yet to be explored and documented in it’s entirety. The Iwokrama Rainforest Programme attempts to explore a bit of this biodiversity.
Some of the major laws, legalizations of exploratory permits into the rainforests, as well as the controversial Barama Deal later, Guyana’s tremendous Natural Botanical wealth remains uncharted, and the knowledge and ensuing economic benefits continue to be unavailable to the Nation.
There appears to be much dissension regarding the consumption of medicinal herbs and their usage in herbal products (rightly so in some cases due to ill informed consumption and false claims by some herbal medicine manufacturers). There is also left much to be desired with regard to investigating and protecting this wealth; either through scientific research accompanied by documentation of the information of tribal societies and older persons equipped with the knowledge, or with the sincere intentions of the government in regulating the explorations of the rainforest motivated purely by profit.
So until Guyana’s natural wealth is inherited by it’s people, we can all enjoy bush tea while it still remains unpatented by some unscrupulous pharmaceutical company in the near future.