Are plants used in modern medicine?


Ethnobotany: The Winning Combination of Drugs and Plants
Without the aid of traditional healers like this man in India administering fish medicine to a patient in 2008, modern medicine would lack many of its most vital drugs.
Without the aid of traditional healers like this man in India administering fish medicine to a patient in 2008, modern medicine would lack many of its most vital drugs.
Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

Indigenous tribes can play a vital role in the creation of new drugs. The knowledge of medicinal plants these tribes possess is a starting point for modern science. Otherwise, researchers looking for naturally-occurring medicine would have the mundane and dangerous task of wandering the planet and randomly ingesting plants. Fortunately, anthropologists have discovered that there remains a vast amount of medicinal knowledge among indigenous tribes around the world that never made it into the annals of early Western pharmacology. As a result, a specialization of anthropology called ethnobotany developed. This is a hybridization of cultural anthropology and plant biology which leads practitioners deep into jungles and plains to uncover traditional medicinal knowledge in a process called natural products discovery [source: Service].

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