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Medicinal Plants and Their Conservation in China with Reference to the Chinese Himalayan Region

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The use of herbal medicine in China has a long history. Since ancient times, plants have been the main source of medicines for people’s healthcare all over China. Today, medicinal plants are widely used in different medical systems including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Tibetan Medicine (TM) for health care and functional food in China, and as supplies of natural products for industrial manufacturing for the international market. In the last half-century, great progress has been made in science and technology and there has been rapid social and economic development. The impact of this rapid development and population pressures on medicinal plants from wild habitats increases day by day. The modernization policy of traditional medicine in China is seen as a challenge to maintaining traditional medical systems. The Chinese Himalayan Region covers five provinces (Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan) in west China, with a land area of 2 million km², including the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in the west and the Hengduan Mountains in the southwest. In this paper, we discuss the rich diversity of medicinal plants of China and the Chinese Himalayan Region; the diversity of medicinal plant utilization of China; threatened medicinal plants and threats to medicinal plants; the conservation status of medicinal plants in China; and proposed Important Plant Areas for medical plants in the Chinese Himalayan Region.


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