Document Type

Article

Publication details

Jagtenberg, T & Evans, S 2003, 'Global herbal medicine: a critique', Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 321-329.

Published version available from:

http://doi.org/10.1089/10755530360623437

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Herbal medicine finds itself at a crossroads. If it continues to become mainstreamed in a commodity-driven health industry, its focus will change from craft-based tradition to globalized industry. On the other hand, if the fundamental importance of tradition to indigenous and nonindigenous medicine is respected, ecologic and cultural issues arise. Central here are the issues associated with control of both land and culture. Many indigenous cultures and their local ecologies are currently threatened by globalization. Historically, successful large corporations have neither respected the environment nor easily acknowledged indigenous claims to land and intellectual property, so no easy resolution of these conflicts seems likely. Our case study of Mapuche medicine allows us to explore the social and cultural conflicts that many practising herbalists experience. We argue that because of the basic contradictions involved, the protection of cultures and ecologies that underpin the discipline must be made a clear priority. We argue that local cultural traditions are clearly at odds with a globalizing herbal industry.

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