Malaysia: Forest Institute to tap potential of 'jungle medicine'

New Straits Times 14 May 13;

KUCHING: Traditional medicine has kept us healthy for generations, but modern living has eroded good health away. As the majority of Malaysia's ethnic population has moved forward into modernity, the Orang Asli have kept their jungle knowledge dear to them.

Six years ago, the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) had embarked on a study involving the 18 Orang Asli tribes in the peninsula. The research was part of the 9th Malaysia Plan initiative by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

FRIM documented data on "jungle medicine" from 13 tribes and found four wild tree species that could help improve general health and those who are diabetic.

Its deputy director-general (operations), Dr Noraini Haron, said there were many wild plants that could serve medicinal purposes and that the Orang Asli had this expertise.

"We are not revealing any details on this finding for now as our studies also show that it has the potential for the consumer market.

"This research is geared towards the commercial use of 'jungle medicine' and the proceeds from it will later go back to the Orang Asli community, which is why we do not want to say much about it," she said yesterday.

FRIM is coming up with a prototype medicine for the commercial market sometime this year. It will seek assistance from the United Nations (UN) Development Programme and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to work on the project.

Meanwhile, Kuching North Mayor Datuk Abang Wahap Abang Julai said the Kuching North City Hall would work with FRIM to make the city green and educational under its Clean, Beautiful and Safe programme.

"We have a lot of vacant land and we want to turn it into little jungle clusters to beautify our city."

Read more: FRIM to tap potential of 'jungle medicine' - General - New Straits Times