SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The co-founders of Vitanova, a vitamin brand that uses a variety of medicinal herbs in its supplements, traveled to the rainforest this summer to meet with the Shuar's tribal elders as part of their "Paying Forward" project. Vitanova donates 10% of all profits to the preservation and revival of botanical knowledge worldwide.
The New York Times states; "...of the estimated 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, nearly half are in danger of extinction and are likely to disappear in this century. Languages are now falling out of use at a rate of about one every two weeks."
The Shuar language is one of those endangered—jeopardizing the community's culture as well as their ancient knowledge of medicinal plants. To help preserve the traditions, the Paying Forward project encouraged communication between Shuar generations by pairing elders who speak the language with their grandchildren. In this way, the knowledge was passed down directly. A database of 50 botanical remedies has been transmitted, photographed and is now part of a growing archive.
Timothy Rose, Vitanova's Creative Director, also traveled to meet the Shuar. "We got an opportunity to research new, exciting botanicals as well as meet the indigenous knowledge-keepers," said Rose.
Vitanova is engaging with the world's leading linguists, anthropologists and indigenous communities to preserve life-saving plant species and the knowledge about those plants––both of which dramatically affect all of humanity.
Global pharmaceutical companies are looking to plants as a source of new drug candidates. A child suffering from leukemia in 1960 faced a 10% chance of remission. By 1997, the likelihood of remission had been increased to 95%, thanks to two drugs derived from a wild plant native to Madagascar.
When asked about the project's impact Vitanova's botanical knowledge liaison, linguistics Professor Maurizio Gnerre said, "With the support of Vitanova, we've put children together with elders and created a special school for the kids to learn their own language and interact with nature."
"Vitanova knows that when a language and culture dies, vital botanical information goes along with it. And, that affects not just the indigenous people but all of us," said CEO, Kamal El-Wattar.
Vitanova founders are invested in programs around the globe. This month, Rose is traveling through Indonesia to meet with tribal knowledge keepers to continue the project.