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January 4, 2013

2 Min Read
Even Dragons Bleed

Back when I toured the Amazon jungle in Peru and learned of its various medicinal botanicals, I came up with the idea to provide some of this valuable info to Insider readers. It was a personal vacation, but I couldn't help generating some content from the experience. I also wanted to showcase the great work conservation organizations like Amazon Planet and others undertake to protect these resources and educate the world about them.

In the resultant slideshow, Medicinal Botanicals from Peru, I talked about Sangre de Drago or Dragon's Blood. As it was explained to me by my Amazon Planet guide, the sap of the Croton lechleri tree has been traditionally used to treat wounds and help repel mosquitoes, and research has been conducted on benefits to HIV/AIDS and other maladies.

During my time in the jungle, so many plants and so many reported benefits were discussed, it was hard to keep them straight and even more difficult to confirm which were facts and which were just promises.

Thus, when I saw the recent news FDA had approved the C. lechleri-based Fulyzaq as the first anti-diarrheal drug for HIV/AIDS patients and only the second FDA-approved botanical drug, I smiled, happy for the patients who might benefit and happy for the local and indigenous Peruvian people that collectively supply the raw materialfrom its start, Napo has held conservation and sustainability as important components of their business, as discussed inthis video of Napo CEO Lisa Conte and VP of Ethnobotany and Conservation Steven King.

Check out this video from Napo Pharmaceutical on harvesting and growing C. lechleri.

The drug (crofelemer) was developed over a 20-year period by San Francisco-based Napo Pharmaceuticals and its predecessor Shaman Pharmaceuticals, but the drug application was filed by Napo's one-time partner, Raliegh, N.C.-based Salix Pharamceuticals. However, the partnership dissolved before the filing, as a lawsuit from Napo claimed Salix had no intentions of seeking drug approval as evidenced by their delay in filing.  Salix completed a Phase III clinical trial involving 374 HIV patients with a history of diarrhea.

While the companies duke it out over who will benefit from revenues, targeted consumers should expect to benefit from the drug in 2013, according to Salix. While the drug is now approved by FDA for HIV patients with chronic diarrhea issues, Napo has plans to use this drug worldwide for all sorts of diarrhea cases (see related research), especially those involving children in third world countries.

Note: Check out this related 2009 article on Dragon's Blood from the American Botanical Council's Herbalgram.







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