There is growing demand for complementary and alternative medicine, yet there is no formal institution where patients from around the world may access suitable plant medicines and accompanying medical guidance.
Rios Nete will be the world’s first healing and research center dedicated to clinically practicing Amazonian plant medicine. We have found that the most effective and sustainable way to ultimately protect the Amazon and its people is by proving its real value to the global community in a tangible way.
Rios Nete is a registered Peruvian Civil Association with offices in the San Martin region of the upper amazon basin. In partnership with Runa Foundation, the non-profit arm of Runa tea company, Rios Nete is working with local healers and scientists to research medicinal plants with the goal of creating value for the rainforest in a way that supports local communities and protects the forest ecosystem.
The Runa group, comprised of Ecuadorian and U.S. based non-profit and for-profit businesses, has shown that this innovative social business model can pay dividends on the triple bottom line, attaining conservation outcomes while simultaneously creating sustainable economic and social development through the commercialization of Amazonian products in the global marketplace. As Rios Nete’s fiscal sponsor, Runa Foundation is providing guidance to enable us to adapt this model to the under-studied and revolutionary potential of Amazonian plant medicine.
Rios Nete will bring the healing potential of Amazonian plants and medical practices to the global community. The first step in this endeavor is to establish a state-of-the-art healing and research facility where we will bring together local healers and western medical and research professionals to heal patients from around the world. Studying and carefully documenting healing processes and outcomes, Rios Nete will build an initial body of scientific evidence showcasing the efficacy of Amazonian healing practices.
Objective 1: Build a clinic where indigenous Amazonian medicine may be practiced and studied in a clinical context
The ancient forests of the Amazon are home to plants with extraordinary medicinal properties, yet less than 5% of plant species have been analyzed. Despite the staggering potential of this vast living pharmacy, the rainforest continues to be cleared by agricultural and extractive industries.
Objective 2: Bring the value of Amazonian medicinal plants into the global conversation regarding the irreplaceable natural and cultural resources of this important region.
Indigenous healers of the Amazon, who practice a medical methodology refined over centuries, are aging rapidly. Extensive stores of medical knowledge are in danger of being lost.
Objective 3: Study, document, and codify indigenous healing knowledge, practices, and remedies in order to build an initial body of scientific research regarding the efficacy and importance of this medical framework.
What We Offer
As a not-for-profit endeavor, Rios Nete will offer patients an alternative to western healing modalities in modern facilities with luxury accommodation and a professional international medical staff. With the income generated from patient fees, we will fund ongoing research and clinical trials, which in turn will generate awareness and support for our growth. In addition to research activities, Rios Nete will also fund local community health programs, as well as sustainable development projects designed to translate our research findings into new livelihood opportunities for Amazonian communities.
Benchmarks of Success:
Chinese & Ayurvedic healing practices
Encountering the limitations of western medicine, an ever-increasing number of patients in need have sought to take a more proactive role in their own healing. This has given rise to an escalating demand for alternative treatments, particularly for those grounded in ancient cultures. This trend is exemplified in the growing global demand for, and scientific and legal recognition of, traditional Chinese medicine. All but six states have official acupuncture licensing and regulatory legislation, and there are over 35 accredited Chinese Medical schools and training centers in 17 states across the U.S. Ayurveda is also growing in popularity, not only evidenced by the ubiquitous Yoga studio, but also the increased presence of ayurvedic practices and products available on the market and through many healthcare facilities’ Integrated Medicine offerings.
The Rise of Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Over the past twenty years, interest in alternative healing practices has escalated dramatically. Many research institutions and healthcare facilities have established their own CAM centers in order to study and meet demand for holistic and integrated care. In 2007, studies by the U.S.’s National Center for Health Statistics found that nearly 40% of adults had used CAM within the preceding year, and total annual out-of-pocket expenditures on CAM products and services reached US$33.9 billion.
Clinic Start-Up & Development
Rios Nete has already purchased 25 acres of land in the upper Peruvian Amazon in the district of San Martin, on which we have installed all necessary infrastructure and have complete architectural plans for a 14 patient clinic. We have constructed an expansive medicinal plant nursery and have already begun propagation and planting of over 50 medicinal plant species in traditional agroforestry systems. We are restoring soil quality to this previously degraded land and reforesting the site using mixed agroforestry systems of native species with medicinal and nutritional uses.
As this will be the Amazon’s first healing center to be staffed by both traditional and western medical practitioners, we intend to grow this unprecedented initiative according to a phased development plan. The clinic itself will function as a dynamic funding mechanism, allowing Rios Nete to cover a portion of operational costs while raising funds for additional expansion, with financial sustainability reached in the 2nd year. Initial efficacy data will be collected during this phase to provide the basis for designing future clinical trials, while simultaneously attracting awareness and support for the expansion of activities and facilities. Second phase investments will be used to expand the clinic’s capacity and completing construction of medical facilities and our on-site laboratory for patient monitoring and evaluations. Third phase activities include expanding the clinic’s capacity to 34 patients and improving the lab facilities and equipment to conduct more comprehensive patient testing as well as researching medicinal plants and their properties.
Community Involvement & Social Enterprise
During these initial phases we will also be working with local and regional stakeholders to identify development needs and potential social enterprise opportunities. Throughout our initial phases we will be studying sustainable propagation and production methods on-site at the clinic, which will not only provide the clinic with medicinal plants, but also enable our field team to put together appropriate technological packages for future scale-up through smallholder production. Rios Nete will create over 20 jobs in one of the most impoverished areas of Peru and serve as an engine for sustainable development in the Amazon region.