Advancing urban ethnopharmacology: A modern concept of sustainability, conservation and cross-cultural adaptations of medicinal plant lore in the urban environment

Tusheema Dutta, Uttpal Anand, Suchismita Chatterjee Saha, Abhijit Bhagwan Mane, Dorairaj Arvind Prasanth, Ramesh Kandimalla, Jarosław Proćków, Abhijit Dey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The discipline ‘urban ethnopharmacology’ emerged as a collection of traditional knowledge, ancient civilizations, history and folklore being circulated since generations, usage of botanical products, palaeobotany and agronomy. Non-traditional botanical knowledge increases the availability of healthcare and other essential products to the underprivileged masses. Intercultural medicine essentially involves ‘practices in healthcare that bridge indigenous medicine and western medicine, where both are considered as complementary’. A unique aspect of urban ethnopharmacology is its pluricultural character. Plant medicine blossomed due to intercultural interactions and has its roots in major anthropological events of the past. Unani medicine was developed by Khalif Harun Al Rashid and Khalif Al Mansur by translating Greek and Sanskrit works. Similarly, Indo-Aryan migration led to the development of Vedic culture, which product is Ayurveda. Greek medicine reached its summit when it travelled to Egypt. In the past few decades, ethnobotanical field studies proliferated, especially in the developed countries to cope with the increasing demands of population expansion. At the same time, sacred groves continued to be an important method of conservation across several cultures even in the urban aspect. Lack of scientific research, validating the efficiency, messy applications, biopiracy and slower results are the main constrains to limit its acceptability. Access to resources and benefit sharing may be considered as a potential solution. Indigenous communities can copyright their traditional formulations and then can collaborate with companies, who have to provide the original inventors with a fair share of the profits since a significant portion of the health economy is generated by herbal medicine. Search string included the terms ‘Urban’ + ‘Ethnopharmacology’, which was searched in Google Scholar to retrieve the relevant literature. The present review aims to critically analyse the global concept of urban ethnopharmacology with the inherent plurality of the cross-cultural adaptations of medicinal plant use by urban people across the world.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA1378
JournalConservation Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Conservationenvironmentmedicinal plantsacred grovessustainabilityUrban ethnopharmacology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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