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Table 1 Comparisons of the features and policy issues of local medicinal plant knowledge: The folk and codified systems of medicine in India

From: Local knowledge in community-based approaches to medicinal plant conservation: lessons from India

Folk traditions of local medicinal plant knowledge TSM of local medicinal plant knowledge
Originated in communities to meet daily healthcare/survival needs, largely undocumented Originated by scholars, physicians and seers and documented in manuscripts/Vedic texts(1000–1500 BC), scriptures for human well-being and developed as a classified main branches
Transmission multigenerational and by oral means through learning-by doing and through more than 300 formal educational colleges Transmission is often institutionalized through written texts and hands-on training
Mainly empirical, adapted Sophisticated philosophical and theoretical roots with a scope for refinement
No legal status, No budgetary allocation, on the contrary vulnerable to disregard and devaluation Legal status as 'Indian Systems of Medicine' with five percent of budgetary allocation (health) wider social and official acceptance and recognition
Approximate # practitioners are 600,000 birth attendants, 60,000 bone setters, 100,000 herbal healers, 60,000 healers specialized in treating poisonous snake bites and millions of households/women Approximately 600,000 registered medicinal practitioners, out of which, 10 percent practice medicine on the basis of TSM.
Uses more than 7,500 medicinal plants The four streams of Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha and Tibetan uses approximately 4,500 medicinal plants
Local state and national incentives for systematic documentation and dissemination needed Available documentation in Sanskrit at scattered places, interpretation and consolidation in a commonly-understood language will facilitate further use/research
In-depth understanding of and incentives for (local/state/national/global) incentives can facilitate transmission Formal institutions for transmission are present but are poorly funded
Sustaining interest and apprenticeship of the younger generations is a challenge Maintaining quality and standards of practitioners is a challenge
Scope of learning from TSM and allopathic medicine system is limited due to access, affordability and literacy issues at the community level Both TSM and allopathic medicine draw heavily on the folk system for herbal remedies or drugs without giving credit or sharing benefits to local communities
Benefit sharing mechanisms are developing and difficult to implement at community level Well-established and implemented benefit sharing mechanism in the form of patent/trademarks and other forms of protection
Efficacy, standardization and safety studies using scientific parameters are almost nil due to lack of authentic documentation and neglect by official policies Efficacy, standardization and safety studies are not encouraged due to high-cost (200,000 US$) and time consuming (8–10 years) scientific validation and language barriers
Collaboration by other stakeholders is difficult and confined to documentation/dissemination efforts Collaboration is generally encouraged if the epistemological and philosophical foundations are matching
  1. Sources: Compiled based on Shankar (2001)[11], Shankar and Venkatasubramanian (2004)[15] and WHO (2002)[6]