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Risk Factors for the Sustainability of Medicinal Plants in Bhutan

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image of Asian Medicine

AbstractMedicinal plants are used worldwide in primary health care and also for modern drug discovery programs. More than 13,000 species of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants are used in traditional medicines and herbal cosmetics throughout the world and about 8000 of these are used in South Asia alone. In Bhutan, while the total number of species used by Local Healing System(s) is unknown, more than 500 species of medicinal plants are recorded in the pharmacopoeia of Bhutanese traditional medicine called (Sowa Rigpa). Currently 300 species, which grow in diverse ecological zones of the country, are used by the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services in formulating 98 different essential Sowa Rigpa medicines. In 2007, 16 tons of medicinal plants were procured by the institute alone and 85% of them, almost all wild species, were collected within the country. Unless properly managed, the sustainability of these wild medicinal plants is likely to be threatened. In this light, our paper describes the possible risk factors that may affect the sustainable use of medicinal plants in Bhutan. Four broad risk factors, which include biological, ecological, social and economic issues, are identified here. Our paper also throws light to the current policies, frameworks and acts that are put in place to ensure the sustainable use of medicinal plants in Bhutan and finally suggests future directions.


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