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Australia imports the vast majority of its medicinal plants and many medicinal plant products are highly processed. Reliable information about the sources of the actual herbs in the products that herbalists prescribe is, with few exceptions, scant. By contrast, herbs consumed in northern Peru are often grown locally and consumed after little or no processing. However in the large medicinal plant markets of that region, information about the sources of individual herbs, as in Australia, is not easily accessed.
This presentation contrasts medicinal plant use in northern Peru with the Australian situation, and reports on the results of a recent study carried out in the major markets of the coastal cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo in northern Peru. The objective of the study was to establish market vendors' knowledge about the traceability, conservation status and botanical identification of twenty (20) medicinal plants. Our results indicate that much of the information about the collection of medicinal plants has been lost by the time the plants reach these markets, even though they were sourced relatively locally and supplies of some are scarce.
Sustainability of medicinal plant supply is important in both Australia and Peru: without the plants we cannot utilize plants for healing - of ourselves, our families and our clients. This study highlights the urgency as well as the complexity of developing procedures which will enable transparency, traceability and ultimately sustainability within medicinal plant supply chains.