16 Sep 2012

Separate cultures use similar plants for medicine - research

6:58 am on 16 September 2012

Researchers looking at the sourcing of drugs from traditional medicines have found that three geographically separate cultures, including Maori, use similar plants for the same healing purposes.

The research on bioprospecting has also found that closely related plants often share therapeutic properties.

The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences collated information on medicinal plant use from Aotearoa, Nepal and South Africa.

Co-director of the Indigenous Bioresources Research Group at Macquarie University in Sydney, Joanna Jamie, says the study highlights the benefit of developing strong relationships with custodians of traditional knowledge.

Associate Professor Jamie says there is a shift towards engaging with customary knowledge.

She says natural products are still where the majority of new remedies start and folk medicine plays a big part in identifying those organic materials.