Easterling knew that all he wanted to be an explorer, a treasure hunter in fact, when he grew up.. This was a decision he made when he was in his third grade. He and his class mates would eagerly await the arrival of the Weekly Reader. This featured the real life adventures of kids like themselves living in some remote corner of the world.
The story of Sangrog who lived with his llamas high in the Andes Mountains described the incredible wealth of the region, the glories of the tribes that had lived in splendour and were no more now. Amazon John knew right then that he was destined to be an explorer, hunting up the vanished treasures. The quest had to wait until he got his degree in Environmental Sciences in 1976. There was no more time to waste. Amazon John took off to Equador, selling his car to pay for his air ticket.
For the next two and a half decades he traveled all over South America, exploring Peru, Bolivia, Uruguary, Brazil and Argentina for the vanished treasures and lost civilizations. He founded the American Fur Trading company and imported into the US gemstones and tribal artifacts from the Amazon basin. The company did business under the name of ‘Raiders of the Lost Art’! This, however, did not stop him from pursuing his quest for lost treasures. Amazon John says that he traveled a great deal in his search for treasures. He was undaunted in this pursuit even though he had only a machete and food to merely keep him alive. He never lost sight of his dream and was sure that he will soon find his treasures.
The heat, the nasty insect bites, the fear of poisonous snakes that were always lurking in the underbrush, just had to be endured. When he was searching the upper reaches of Amazon River’s largest tributary, the Rio Ucayali, the extreme heat, the fever and chills that he was suffering from made him get to Shipibo village where he just collapsed. The friendly people of the village put Amazon John in the hand of their herbalist who made him drink about a liter of herbal tea prepared with the herbs, Uncaria tomentosa (Gato Vine) and Phyllantius niruri (Chanca Piedra).
To his great relief and delight, the treatment worked. With rest and continued intake of the herbal teas, John was on his feet and took off on his quest. He continued to drink the herbal tea and to his amazement and wonder felt healthier in body and clear in mind than ever before. The liver problem he had because of hepatitis and Mountain fever that he had suffered earlier seemed to have vanished. This experience was to make a monumental change in the nature of his quest.
Amazon John experienced a great surge of energy and internal chi when he was in the rainforest once again. This made him undertake a careful study of the plants and herbs in that area. He realized that he had stumbled upon an entire natural ‘Pharmacy’! He sold his ‘Raiders of the Lost Art’ and founded the Amazon Herb Company. For the Shipibo, the Machegunga, the Campa and the Aguaruana tribes, the rain forest is home.
The herbal treasures of the Gato vine and Chanca Piedro give them great vitality. This made Amazon John realize that the herbs and plants of the rainforest have great value not only because of their immune enhancing and liver rejuvenating properties, they are also nutritive and contain trace elements. Above all, there is a great ecological harmony that has been sustained over thousands of years, and which may now be jeopardized by climate change and other natural upheavals. It is up to us to benefit from these natural treasures and live in symbiotic harmony with Nature.