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Issue 112: Amazon John

Amazon Rainforest

Some of the world’s most exceptional people know they have reached the pinnacle of success when no last name is required. A classic example is that credit card companies will gladly ignore surnames and issue platinum cards aplenty if you’re Madonna, Obama, Prince, Cher, Sting, LeBron, Tiger, Eminem or Oprah. In the southern hemisphere, and particularly in the dense jungles and rainforests of South America, there is an exceptional man known simply as “Amazon John” because he has perhaps done more than anyone else to preserve the precious resources of the rainforest. However, before he earned his nickname, he was John Easterling and he started out the way many great men do—as a boy with a dream.

As a child, Easterling was an avid Boy Scout who spent all of his free time camping and enjoying the outdoors. He became interested in studying the ancient Incas and dreamed of going to Peru to search for treasure, an aspiration that was deferred for years until he graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in environmental studies. Sooner than the ink could dry on his diploma, he sold his car in order to buy a plane ticket to Ecuador and set off to find the lost cities of gold that had intrigued him for so many years. It took only a few weeks for reality to set in, and he had to come up with “Plan B” when his treasure hunt left him empty-handed.

Easterling bought some alpaca furs, ceramics, and handmade crafts and developed a business selling them in the States in order to finance frequent trips back to South America. He mined gem stones and crystals in Brazil and was then lured to Peru where he began exploring the Amazon rainforest, befriending the Shipibo Indians and other local tribes along the way. He was having the adventure of a lifetime until 1982 when chronic illnesses left him weak and dehydrated in the rainforest.

Suffering for years with hepatitis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever that nearly killed him in North Carolina, Easterling was accustomed to living with conditions that left him feeling drained and fatigued. When he became seriously ill with a low grade jungle fever in Peru, his new Indian friends rescued him and offered him Una de Gato and Chanca Piedra teas made from rainforest vines and shrubs. Easterling says it was like a magical elixir.

“It was truly a serendipitous, life-changing moment for me,” recalls Easterling. “I had more energy, mental acuity, and a sense of peace in my environment. I knew it was all because I had finally found real treasure--the 200,000 species of healing, life-enhancing plants in the Amazon.” 

Easterling is an eternal optimist when it comes to believing that more people are becoming aware of all the benefits the rainforest has to offer from an environmental and a health perspective. “We could certainly get some attention if more people knew that 70 percent of the world’s plants showing important medical properties are in the rainforest,” he says. “It also produces 30 percent of the world’s oxygen supply and is our planet’s greatest climate stabilizer. My goal is to help others realize the rainforest is the centerpiece for a healthy future for the whole planet.”

Passionate about his beliefs, Easterling has no problem rallying others to his cause. Aside from his extensive knowledge of Amazon herbs, his boyish good looks and charm are reminiscent of Pierce Brosnan, and he’s supposedly so nice that Olivia Newton-John married him...twice! (Once on a secluded mountain top in Peru and again near their home in Florida). Together they work on various causes, including Olivia’s fundraisers for breast cancer research, her GAIA Retreat and Spa, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center in Melbourne, Australia, and the Amazon Herb Company, which helps keep them both vibrant and youthful looking. In fact, Olivia attributes one of his mysterious herbs with getting the couple together in the first place, claiming that when she had a cup of a new health drink he wanted her to sample, it turned out to be a “love potion.” 

For more information about Amazon Herb Company, visit


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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