For millenia, humans have depended on medicinal plants to treat their ailments. Traditional medicine is still mainstream in many parts of the world today. Scientific investigations have taken several different approaches:
- To understand which plants (or other treatments) people use to treat which illnesses, and how they use them (Medical anthropology and ethnobotany)
- To isolate and identify the key compounds in the plant (phytochemistry)
- To test plant extracts for their biological activity (plant pharmacology)
- To test whether herbal medicines are safe and effective in humans (clinical trials)
While doing these investigations, it is important to respect the Intellectual Property Rights of the traditional owners of the knowledge about medicinal properties of plants, and to ensure that they receive a fair share of any benefits which may arise from commercial developments.
This site is organised around these five key areas, each of which is overseen by a separate expert panel. These pages bring together resources and posts of interest to the various interest groups, as well as describing the overall aims for each of the groups.