We were in Oaxaca Mexico when the Covid pandemic hit and I noticed that some of my friends from the local pueblos not only had virtually no western medical support but also very little traditional medicine to treat the virus. Because of my past experience running medical outreach projects in the Amazon, I’d gained some insight into the nature of epidemics, so I thought long and hard about what could be done. First, I realized that there needed to be a central plan. Not having a plan is like randomly spraying for a bug infestation in your home garden. You may kill some of the bugs some of the time, but you won’t eradicate the entire population. The same goes for epidemics. You must first figure out the nature of the virus and then come up with a plan to break its ability to multiply and survive.

In the Amazon two of the major diseases we faced were malaria and dengue fever, which are both spread by vector infection.  Neither of these diseases are airborne. Through funders of my Amazonia Foundation, we had received donations of millions of dollars in pharmaceutical medicine to cure the symptoms, but these medicines had little impact on the situation. The mefloquine was having a low 14% success rate with malaria, by far the most, deadly disease on earth and no one had a solution until my friend Anina discovered an article about a plant long used in traditional Chinese medicine called Artemesia annua. Anina was able to bring samples of Artemesia to the jungle and after administering it in a tea we observed not only an over 80% cure rate, but we also observed that the tea worked as a prophylactic.  As time went on, we were happily surprised to see that Artemesia was also having the same positive effect on Dengue fever and other diseases. My experiences with Artemesia annua made me think about this incredible healing plant in the time of Covid.

In February of 2020, I began speaking on social media about how Artemisia annua and its possible use for Covid. I subsequently found out that Artemisia annua had not only been recently used by the Chinese to fight Covid but that it was currently being tested by the renowned Max Planck Institute for use against Covid. The Planck Institute’s research proved that Artemesia annua has 24 different compounds that are directly relevant to fighting the coronavirus. As I realized more and more the relevance that Artemesia annua might have in fighting Covid, I decided not to wait on getting help to indigenous communities throughout the Americas. I planted a crop of Artemesia seeds on a friend’s farm in April and the seeds from those plants are the first seeds that will be in the Healing Garden project in the Zapotec pueblo of Teotitlan Del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. We are joined in this great endeavor by an incredible group of human beings including the Bautista family, Robert Laurie, Jose Antonio Vasquez, Leonides Guadarrama, and Andy Blake. Our hope is that the success of Teotitlan will spread from one pueblo and community to the next until all the people of the Americas have effective ways to deal with these epidemic diseases.