The field of medicine has witnessed changes and developments for decades. But there are some medicines that survived the test of time and are still used today. Especially Ethnobotany, a scientific study of traditional plant knowledge, has given medicines like morphine, aspirin, ephedrine, etc.
John de la Parre, Northeastern University’s doctoral candidate described a new field called Ethnophytotechnology, which is the use of plant biotechnology to improve the plant based medicinal production. He attempts to promote new drug discoveries.
La Parra says that medicine or pharmaceutical practice is equivalent to botany. Paclitaxel, a chemotherapy drug with the anti-malaria drug is also derived from the tree. An extract from the bark of Cinchona was used to treat malaria and it was later developed into a drug.
Many infections which have no effective treatments, can be treated with plant derived drugs. He says that a rapidly developing world has given a broader perspective in the field of medicine leading to inequalities in treatment. According to him, Ethnophytotechnology is an effective way to treat the neglected diseases, especially in the West where only chronic diseases are focused.
Indigenous people, culture, and knowledge must be protected from the international community, as there have been many records which prove that they have been preyed and destroyed by the greedy interests of these communities. This will lead to the protection of human plant knowledge in its right sense and that their damage by the biomedical field will be avoided.
When de la Parra was asked from where she got her inspiration on conducting this research, she says that she was amazed by her grandmother who used plants as medicines when they lived on a farm in Albama. According to her, Biotechnology provides accuracy and leaves no suspicion, therefore, she intends to work on the amalgamation of Biotechnology and Ethnobotany.