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Herbal mixtures in traditional medicine in Northern Peru

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-6-10

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Traditional Medicine, defined by the WHO as " medical knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine, including the health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral-based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being." [1] is used globally and has rapidly growing economic importance. In developing countries, Traditional Medicine is often the only accessible and affordable treatment available. In Latin America, the WHO Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO/PAHO) reports that 71% of the population in Chile and 40% of the population in Colombia have used Traditional Medicine. In many Asian countries Traditional Medicine is widely used, even though Western medicine is often readily available. In Japan, 60-70% of allopathic doctors prescribe traditional medicines for their patients. In the US the number of visits to providers of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM, codified herbal medicine) now exceeds by far the number of visits to all primary care physicians [1-3].Complementary Alternative Medicine is also becoming more and more popular in many developed countries. Forty-two percent of the population in the US have used Complementary Alternative Medicine at least once [4], and a national survey reported the use of at least one of 16 alternative therapies increased from 34% in 1990 to 42% in 1997 [5].The expense for the use of Traditional and Complementary Alternative Medicine is exponentially growing in many parts of the world. The 1997 out-of-pocket Complementary Alternative Medicine expenditure was estimated at US$ 2.7 billion in the USA. The world market for herbal medicines based on traditional knowledge is now estimated at US$ 60 billion [6].Northern Peru is believed to be the center of the Central Andean Health Axis [7], and traditional


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