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Leveraging ethnomedicine practices in tribes of India: A cross-road of culture and biology
Tribes dwell in the lap of nature having a close day-to-day interaction with forest and associated flora and fauna. Their sustenance is dependent on natural products as they share a sacred bond with nature. Through generations of observation, practice and usage tribes have developed and preserved the traditional knowledge-base of ethnomedicine. Ethnomedicine practices and related belief systems constitute the core of culture-health interface. Traditional healers provide healthcare that is comparatively affordable, accessible and sustainable in tribal areas where presence of modern medicine is scarce and treatment is expensive. However, recent expansion of modern medicine in terms of access and scientific advances has started questioning the presence of ethnomedicine in rural and tribal areas. Thus, for this loosing art to thrive a two-fold approach is necessary: providing scientific validity to ethnomedicine practices and their integration into the public health system. For the later to be realized it is essential that tribal communities enjoy the benefits arising from commercial utilization of their knowledge-base. Moreover, Indian Council of Medical Research has identified scientific validation of traditional remedies as one of the main pillars of health research in the country till year 2030. Against this backdrop, the present paper will discuss recent experiences of working on ethnomedicine in tribes of India and dwells upon the road map for future research in this important domain.