Medicinal Plant Use Influenced by Health Care Service in Mestizo and Indigenous Villages in the Peruvian Amazon

  •  Miki Toda    
  •  Misa Masuda    
  •  Elsa Rengifo    


Medicinal plants, as a type of non-timber forest products (NTFP), have been expected to support the livelihoods of people globally, especially in rural and forest areas in developing nations. As medicinal plants occupy a unique position, with direct repercussions for people’s health and as a potential income resource, it is necessary to take the interaction with, and influence of, modern medicine into account when they are considered as a NTFP. This study pursued the influence of the health care service on medicinal plant utilization in mestizo and indigenous villages near secondary population agglomerations in the Peruvian Amazon. The study found some influence of the health care services on medicinal plant use in the study site, indicating that 1) medicinal plants are not necessarily a highly dependable approach for health care, 2) there are insufficient conditions for the development of a commercial market for medicinal plants, and 3) mestizo and indigenous households have similar health care utilization behaviours, although indigenous households are more affected by modern medicine, especially health care insurance, than the mestizo households. The health care service is an important factor for medicinal plant use for both health and livelihood. Without considering this factor, the potential of medicinal plants as NTFP cannot be fully understood.

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