But, did you know he spent time in Ecuador? It's true, and for quite the cause: to help build two state-of-the-art medical facilities (one in Peru and one in Ecuador) as part of the #PlantMed Campaign, which he's spearheading. The facilities would help raise awareness of the plants and medicines found in the Amazon — all of which could be used to help treat serious illnesses and diseases.
Sponsored by Runa Foundation, a social enterprise and nonprofit arm of the beverage company Runa, #PlantMed campaign's goal is to raise $1 million for the two clinics. These clinics aim to unlock the healing power of the Amazon.
Tatum's involvement stems from his love for the product. "Runa gives me sustained energy," he says, "and fuels me to do all the things I love to do."
Tatum spent time with the Sápara tribe in Ecuador — a dwindling tribe with only 575 people left. It was here where Tatum witnessed firsthand how the "rainforest is essentially a living pharmacy," he says. It was here in Ecuador where Tatum realized why creating the aforementioned facilities is so important.
"I witnessed firsthand the incredible knowledge this community has of the numerous medicinal plants in the Amazon," Tatum says. "When I realized that no one is systemically documenting their knowledge of plants and using scientific methods to analyze their treatment potential, I got inspired to get involved."
He continues: "We all have friends and family who are suffering from severe diseases, some that western medicine can barely diagnose, let alone treat effectively. If these plants have even one new treatment to offer that can more effectively heal the sick and dying, everyone who supports these clinics will know that we've created a better world together."
If all goes well and the goal of $1 million is met, one of the clinics, Naku, will be a wellness and healing center run by the Sápara. It's here where patients will experience firsthand how the tribe's unique traditional practices can be used to treat modern medicine's toughest problems.
So, why is this so important? In short, these facilities would use the healing power of the plants and trees found in the Amazon and be used to treat the sick and suffering. And Tatum wants to help preserve and share the Sápara's wisdom.
"I was surprised to learn and see just how woven they are into the fabric of the rainforest," Tatum says. "Their dreams, their stories and their language are all based in their relationship to the different animals, trees and elements around them. It's a beautiful thing."
Tyler Gage, co-founder of Runa Tea, drives it home, saying, "Together with the Shipibo and Sápara people, we want to show the world that people everywhere can benefit from the bounty of the Amazon without destroying it."
If you're interested in supporting Tatum and the #PlantMed Campaign you can participate in events, name a room in the clinic, visit the new centers as construction begins this year and/or donate at www.plantmed.org.
Images: Brian Bowen Smith
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