Erowid References Database
Advances in New Crops. 1990;1:491-8.
Two hundred and fifty years ago, there were few or no synthetic medicines. The
250,000-300,000 species of higher plants were the main source of drugs for the world's
population. Today, 75% of the world's population, the poor 3/4ths, still relies on those plants and other tools of traditional medicine. In the U.S. and Europe the ecological movement has brought about a renewed interest in traditional medicines. High inflation rates in the third world have caused some citizens to return to or begin using herbal remedies. In Bolivia, the Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Medicine of the National University have given official and moral support for the return to native medicines (Healy 1986). Life expectancy of the poor has not increased quite so much as with the richer quarter of the world's population, who depend on non-traditional medicine. Even
among prescription drugs, at least 25% contain at least one compound derived from higher plants. The percentage might be higher if we include over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Today, many avant garde North American citizens, too, are beginning to seek natural alternatives to iatrogenic synthetics. The prescription drug market is around $40 billion^ today, suggesting a value of about $10 billion for those drugs containing at least one compound derived from higher plants. Ironically, illicit drugs, mostly natural generate more revenue than prescription drugs, United States markets alone for illicit drugs are estimated at more than $150 billion.
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