In the last ten years, there has been a dramatic reduction in medicinal plants in Tibet. This situation has attracted the attention of many researchers from different professional backgrounds, yet very few documents have been published on the general theoretical context and the actual process of herb collection as it occurs at different levels in clinics in Tibet. This article begins with a systematic review of the general principles of medicinal plant collection methods as set out in the ancient traditional medical system. Because the demand for plants is generated by the need to make Tibetan medicines, it is necessary to consider the original context of Tibetan medicine to understand pharmacological needs and the principles behind collecting medicinal plants to develop a strategy that might guarantee sustainable development of the plant supply. After considering the wider context of this study, the article presents research mainly based on case studies with the intention of understanding different stakeholders' experiences and social relationships in the contemporary herb collection process in order to discover behavioral patterns within the dynamic social roles involved in this process as these inform policy formation and to seek to promote appropriate methods in the future.
Qualitative Exploration of the Potential Causes of Serious Reduction in Availability of Medicinal Plants in the Qinghai-Tibetan High Plateau
Mingji Cuomu is a Wellcome Trust research fellow at the University of Oxford. She holds a PhD in Tibetan medicine and public health in the Tibetan Autonomous Region from Humboldt University (Berlin, Germany), bachelor's and master's degrees in Tibetan medicine from the Traditional Tibetan Medical College, Lhasa, and a master's degree in Western public heath from Sheffield Hallam University (UK). Since 2005 her work has focused on social studies of medicine, public health, Tibetan medicine, and Buddhism. Her publications include Clinical Research on Tibetan Medicine: Challenges and Points of Consensus (2012), coedited with Claudia Witt and Sienna Craig; and Studies of Medical Pluralism in Tibetan History and Society (2010), coedited with Sienna Craig, Mona Schrempf, and Frances Garrett.
Mingji Cuomu; Qualitative Exploration of the Potential Causes of Serious Reduction in Availability of Medicinal Plants in the Qinghai-Tibetan High Plateau. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 September 2013; 7 (3): 397–423. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-2332366
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