Ethnobotanicals Around the World

Since the dawn of the human race, people have turned to the earth to heal their illnesses, injuries and woes. It is only of late that we find resistance to using certain plants, or plant-based remedies because of the fear of the side effects or lasting impacts of the plants and organics. A field of botany has emerged called ethnobotanicals, which focuses on the study of medical applications, religious beliefs and cultural uses of certain plants and trees. Ironically, most of the plants studied for ethnobotanical reasons are not positive.

What Are Common Ethnobotanicals?
The most popular and well-known ethnobotanical is cannabis. Everyone has heard of it and everyone knows someone who has engaged in the use of cannabis. There are countless scientists and medical professionals studying the effects and impacts of cannabis for both positive and negative uses. Another ethnobotanical that is less common now, but was common several years ago is called Ergot Rye - which is used in synthetic manufacturing in LSD. A third common type of Ethnobotanical, which is on the verge of extinction in countries like Thailand is Kratom; this tree-based botanical is used to create Kratom powder which is used in herbal medicines and more.

How are Ethnobotanicals Used

The purpose of studying plants and trees based on their location is to determine the cultural beliefs and uses of the plants. People from different walks of life use these plants and trees to derive extracts from them and make medical treatments, herbal medicines, and pain relievers. As well, some ethnobotanicals are used as anti-drugs, to help wean addicts off of more harmful drugs.  

In North America, a debate is alive and well about the growing, harvesting, selling and usage of cannabis. The United States is slowly moving toward legalization, while Canada is slower to follow. Much is being done to research the implications of usch legalization, but while the conversation continues, people are gaining more and more access to it for personal and medicinal use.

Studies are being conducted all over the world in order to determine if ethnobotanicals can help people with conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism and Depression.

What are the Issues with Ethnobotanicals?
The majority of the issues surrounding ethnobotanicals are related to the uses of such plants and trees. While medical and scientific research is done under supervision and in a controlled setting, humans have been experimenting with ethnobotanicals, such as cannabis and Kratom, for a long, long time. It’s only recently (the last century) that governments all over the world have stepped in and started harvesting plants and trees to the point of extinction, as a way to prevent the exploitation and use of these botanicals.

Because governments don’t know how to control these substances, and cannot control how people will use them, they are forced to draw down legal implications for those found with such botanicals in their possession. For example, in Thailand, laws state that being caught with Kratom could be punishable by death.


  1. Such an intriguing subject that has been in continuous debate regarding the legalization of the cannabis. For me as long as it is regulated and it can cure I am all up for it.

    1. My opinion is the same. As long as the cannabis won't be use by illegal 'drug users'

  2. Good read. Since people have little understanding on what the implications of the usage of ethnobotanicals then more studies should be done to it. If there have been major positive results of the use of these plants to patients, then the more reason that governments should invest on studying about it more. I personally believe that cure to illnesses can be found in plants, but we still need more time for our scientists to determine how to extract such medicine and from which plant.

    1. There are lots of plants that needs to be discovered for good use. I hope that sooner we can use them to cure diseases.

  3. I wonder what Philippines's scientist say about these.For me it sounds safe because it's from plants,And it's more on naturals.