The most powerful medicinal plants may be found sprouting on the fringes of towns and developments, according to a report in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Most searches for new drugs have concentrated on the tropical rainforests.
Researchers studied the native Maya of Mexico to see where they found their medicinal plants.
During the seven-month study of the Highland communities of Chiapas, the researchers found that 103 species of plant were used to treat sick people. Of these, 80% were used for GI and respiratory disorders.
|35 species used to treat the sick were previously regarded as weeds.|
|Journal of Ethnopharmacology|
Researchers noticed that native doctors never ventured into virgin forest to seek out plants.
Instead they picked them out from 'disturbed' areas close to their villages.
They found that 35 of the species had previously been regarded as weeds.
Scientists believe that weeds may contain more potent chemicals than plants in undisturbed areas - because they have had to evolve powerful defenses to survive in areas of civilization.
Researcher John Stepp, of the University of Georgia, Athens, USA, said, "I was really amazed by what we found.
"We think the evidence supports a closer examination of the relationship between weeds and medicinal floras. We may find that the next plant-derived pharmaceutical is in the abandoned lot down the street."
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com