A worldwide boom in herbal medicine could destroy thousands of plant species and jeopardize the health of millions of people in developing countries, according to a forthcoming study reported in New Scientist.
Alan Hamilton, a plant specialist from the global environment network WWF who is also a member of the World Conservation Union’s Medicinal Plants Specialist Group, said the popularity of herbal remedies is threatening to wipe out up to 10,000 species of wild plants.
The market for herbal remedies has doubled in the past decade and is now worth ?11 billion, he said.
Popular species under threat include the tetu lakda tree, which is used for anti-cancer drugs, and saw-wort, from India, used for skin disorders.
Also include the African cherry, the bark of which is popular in Europe as a treatment for prostate enlargement.