The Runa Guayusa Tea entrepreneurs have attracted Hollywood actor Channing Tatum (pictured) to the efforts of the Runa Foundation to raise $1 million to create two medical facilities in the upper Amazon. One will be in Peru and the other in Ecuador. The July 23, 2015 announcement describes how at the planned Rios Nete medical facility in Peru “teams of traditional healers and western doctors will work together to use Amazonian medicines and practices to treat patients from Peruand around the world with auto immune diseases and grave conditions.” At the NAKU facility, in Quito, Ecuador, a new “wellness and healing center run by the Sapara” people will be created. In it, “patients with a range of health and wellness needs, including depression and insomnia, will experience firsthand how the Sapara’s unique traditional practices can be used to treat modern medicine’s toughest problems.”
In the last 4 years, the Runa Foundation “has worked with the Sapara and Kichwa people in Ecuador and the Shipibo in Peru, creating social enterprises like the Runa line of guayusa drinks.” The guayusa teas are made from an “Amazonian super-leaf naturally packed with caffeine, polyphenols, and 15 essential amino acids so it provides a clean, focused energy.” In his endorsement, Tatum speaks to the value of increased exploration of the Amazon: “For the Sapara, the rainforest is a living pharmacy. Over the centuries, they’ve made profound discoveries about the healing power of plants and trees. They use a wide variety of medicinal plants to treat the sick and suffering.”
Comment: The Runa enterprise is a social enterprise business that has established a series of fair trade cooperatives through which to invest in the communities where the plant is found. The foundation has partnered with the Yale School of Forestry, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, City University of New York, and the Virginia Botanical Gardens “to research and improve the management of native forest gardens.” This is an aspirational campaign. The money is being sought to support the foundation in creating the clinics.