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Today, traditional herbalist healers continue to use knowledge passed down for generations. Some ethnobotanists are studying with traditional healers to save such knowledge before it disappears.

Due to a growing interest in alternative medicine, herbalism is also attracting new practitioners, and herbal research is constantly underway. Critics note that dosages can be difficult to control, even among plants of the same species, and side effects can be unpredictable.

A number of essential modern drugs derive from plants, and scientists generally agree that only a fraction of the world's plants have been studied for their medicinal potential. However, threats to the environment, particularly in tropical forests where the highest numbers of species (many still unknown to science) reside, may reduce the possibility of identifying new plant-derived drugs. see also Ethnobotany; Herbs and Spices; Medicinal Plants; Taxonomy, History of.

Charlotte A. Tancin


Anderson, Frank J. An Illustrated History of the Herbals. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977.

Arber, Agnes. Herbals: Their Origin and Evolution. A Chapter in the History of Botany, 1470-1670, 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986, reprinted 1988.

Arvigo, Rosita, Nadine Epstein, Marilyn Yaquinto, and Michael Balick. Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

Balick, Michael J., and Paul A. Cox. Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany. New York: Scientific American Library, 1996.

Duke, James A. The Green Pharmacy: New Discoveries in Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs. Em-maus, PA: Rodale Press, 1997.

Foster, Steven. Herbal Renaissance: Growing, Using, and Understanding Herbs in the Modern World. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs-Smith Publisher, 1993.

Schultes, Richard E., and Robert F. Raffauf. The Healing Forest: Medicinal and Toxic Plants of the Northwest Amazonia. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press, 1990.

Thomson, William A. R., ed. Medicines from the Earth: A Guide to Healing Plants. New York: Alfred van der Marck Eds., 1983.

ethnobotanist a scientist who interacts with native peoples to learn more about the plants of a region ethnobotanist a scientist who interacts with native peoples to learn more about the plants of a region

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