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Open Access Traditional medicinal plants in Ben En National Park, Vietnam

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This paper surveys the medicinal plants and their traditional use by local people in Ben En National Park, Vietnam. A total of 230 medicinal plant species (belonging to 200 genera and 84 families) is used by local people for treatment of 68 different diseases. These include species that are collected in the wild (65%) as well as species grown in home gardens. Leaves, stems and roots are most commonly used either fresh or dried or by decocting the dried parts in water. Women are mainly responsible for health care, they have better knowledge of medicinal plants than men, and also collect them more than men at almost every age level. The indigenous knowledge of traditional medicinal plants may be rapidly lost because 43% of the young generation do not know or do not want to learn about medicinal plants, and the remainder knows little about them. Moreover, nowadays local people tend to use western medicine. Eighteen medicinal plant species are commercialized and contribute on average 11% to the income of the households. The majority of medicinal species are used by less than half of the households and 68% of the medicinal plant species have use indices lower than 0.25. Only 6 of the medicinal species of Ben En are listed in the Red data list of Vietnam, but locally 18 medicinal species are endangered because of overharvesting.

A comparison of traditional uses of medicinal plants in Ben En National Park with traditional uses elsewhere in South-East Asia and the Indo-Pacific region shows that the same species may be used for widely different treatments by different ethnic groups.

The conservation, sustainable use and economic potential of medicinal plants is discussed. We argue that their use, cultivation in home gardens, and marketing should be encouraged as an affordable alternative to expensive western medicine.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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  • Blumea is an international journal on the biodiversity, evolution and biogeography of plants, including topics on systematics, floristics, phylogeny, morphology and anatomy. For floristic studies, the focus is on tropical Africa south of the Sahara, tropical Southeast Asia with a strong emphasis on Malesia, and South America with emphasis on the Guianas. Papers in Blumea are subjected to peer review and are in English. Blumea is published three times a year, comprising c. 300 pages in total.
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