The panic spread by Covid 19 is making many people in the West turn their eyes to alternative medicine, or otherwise to so-called folk medicine.
It is a well-known fact that nearly 30 percent of Europeans and Americans do not trust vaccines produced to prevent the spread of the Covid 19. pandemic, so much so that governments today are discussing making vaccination mandatory for all!
In this climate of fear and disbelief, attention is turning to medications that were once the only means of curing various infections and parasites.
As has been the herbal treatment. Over the centuries this has been one of the most widespread and successful ways around the world. Especially in poor countries where even aspirin was hard to find.
Interest in the impact of medicinal plants on human health has not only been a feature of ordinary people or monks in monasteries, but even of the most well-known international pharmaceutical firms.
Since ancient times, people have noticed, for example, that the soaking of willow bark or even its leaves, soothes pain in the body. An Egyptian papyrus from 3570 BCE describes the properties of willow bark. The “father” of medicine, Hippocrates (460 – 370 BC) taught how to prepare a healing herb from white willow bark as an effective remedy against pain and fever.
But it took over 3,000 years until 1899 when the famous German firm “Bayer” managed to synthetically produce willow bark ingredients, thus creating for the first time the “Aspirin” so well known and so widely used today worldwide.
Such an experience many people and international pharmaceutical laboratories are trying to bring back to life even to Covid 19. Attention is being turned again to the miraculous effects of phytotherapy, as it is known in scientific language the treatment of diseases by means of medicinal plants. In particular, recently, interest has been particularly focused on Albania.
Only during these last days there have been several western television stations and daily newspapers that have devoted entire reports to the phytotherapeutic potential of our country.
Paul Malo, for example, titled his report on the Consoglobe: “Albania – European Eldorado of medicinal plants”.
“Although Albania has not produced any vaccine against Covid, it has its share in the fight against the pandemic thanks to the use of its medicinal plants by the international pharmaceutical industry with 14 thousand tons that it exports to Europe and America.” , – emphasized these days in his report the channel “Franceinfotv”.
While the Belgian Francophone channel, RTBF, in its report reminded that Albania is a country “flooded” by colorful lawns with perfume scents.
You can find sage, chamomile, cauliflower, primroses, lavender, oregano, blueberries, etc., etc. all over Albania. And the best part is that they are organic products, which grow in the groves and lawns of the country without being contaminated by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, – it is claimed in the western mass media.
While the well-known French news agency AFP, in its article published no later than July 6 this year, takes the example of Drane Cukaj, 91 years old, mother of 9 children and 40 grandchildren. “She enjoys full health because she drinks a sage tea every morning,” notes the well-known French media.
For its part, the Swiss radio RTS underlines that there are about 300 medicinal plants in Albania. Over 100,000 Albanians have dedicated themselves to the collection of these plants, – it is claimed in the Helvetic radio show.
In her article published on BBC Travel, the British Elisabeth Gowing talks about the great financial opportunities that the collection of medicinal plants offers to Albanian women. “They had clean, white skin. “Maybe from working with the plant known by the Latin name as primula veris, (primrose) that foreign companies demand so much”, – she stated, among others, to BBC Travel.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the demand of western countries for medicinal plants from Albania has increased like never before – also notes the portal “France 24”.
Another portal, “Direct Media” describes the enthusiasm and conviction of herbologist Valentina Petova who has a medicinal plant pharmacy in the center of Tirana.
According to Petova, after trying and re-testing the medicines given to them by doctors and pharmacists, more and more people are turning to traditional methods. “Medicinal plants – have a tradition in our country. We have been cured with them for hundreds of years. This is part of our heritage “- the Albanian herbalist proudly states for the foreign media.
In fact it is true that Albania has a long popular tradition in the knowledge and use of medicinal plants. What is less known is that our country also has a scientific tradition in this field.
Very few people know today, for example, that during the dictatorship in Tirana there was an Institute of Folk Medicine, which published in 1977 the book “Health is protected by plants”, the work of professors Pirro Goda, Viron Xhillari and Gazmend Skënderi. The same institute published in 1977 the scientific book “Medicinal plants in the family”, the work of researchers P. Kokalari, Mr. Sima and P. Xinxo.
Also, few people are aware today that once in Tirana the company “Profarma” produced all kinds of tinctures, extracts, syrups based on medicinal plants. The essences, or essential oils, as they are called today, of sage, mint, lavender, etc. have been extracted, processed and traded since that time by “Profarma”.
Involuntarily we come to the role of the state in the economy. Medicinal plant collectors in Albania complain about the lack of support from the state. The truth is that in all economic activities in Western countries, the state, even today, plays a primary role in running the national economy.
Albania should not be an exception. For example, instead of exporting raw sage, you might as well process it and sell it either in the form of tea in small bags or as an essential oil. At a price ten times higher! A state cooperation with the private sector in this field would be long-awaited and would multiply the revenues for the Albanian economy. Especially for agriculture. Especially in gathering and finding additional markets for export.
In the ’70s -‘ 80s of the last century in the agro-export enterprise in Tirana there was a special branch of export of medicinal plants and essential oils. Apart from this activity, not to mention the export of tomatoes since the beginning of April, the state generated significant revenues!
French champagne is, for example, an internationally known and valued brand and product. The French state earns billions from its worldwide export. The Greek ouzo is as well known and valued in the West as the Italian spumant. But in Paris there was also a drink called Gentiana! Gentiana is a plant that grows in the north of Albania, thus “baptized” by the name of the Illyrian king Genti. If such a drink was promoted by the Albanian state, like the cognac “Skanderbeg” once, how many millions would go into the pockets of Albanians and the country’s economy ?!
From 50 million euros that entered the Albanian economy today only from the export of medicinal plants, this figure could be multiplied several times if the state would intervene more with programs and investments.
Maybe then the cultivation of hashish would decrease by itself, as Albanian farmers would find another way of life. Much more useful, legal and healthy.
In a word the on-site experience and opportunities exist. They just need to be revived. And then Albania will really turn into an Eldorado of processing and exporting medicinal plants worldwide.