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Department of Social Anthropology


Acmella OleraceaAn ancient Incan toothache remedy is on the cusp of revolutionising worldwide dental practice. The remedy, made from an Amazonian plant species and turned into a gel for medical use, may hasten the end of current local anaesthetics in dental use. Dr Françoise Barbira-Freedman is leading efforts to bring this natural painkiller to the global marketplace as an organic alternative to synthetic painkillers. The company she founded, Ampika Ltd, is run according to strict ethical guidelines, and will channel a percentage of future profits back to the Keshwa Lamas community who had initially agreed to share their expertise. If last clinical trials remain successful, Ampika will bring the finished product to market in 2014/15. Dr Freedman has already channelled some early funding to the Keshwa Lama to help in the creation of a medicinal plant garden to conserve plants and plant knowledge – with the aim of preserving wisdom for future generations.

Find out more in articles and interviews from the University of Cambridge News, BBC Radio 4 Today, the New Scientist  and the Daily Mail.