Africa is considered the cradle of Homo sapiens' emergence. Though traditional African medicine is the oldest and perhaps the most diverse of all healthcare systems , detailed documentation on the use of medicinal plants in Africa is lacking. With rapid urbanization, traditional oral knowledge is dwindling fast, e.g. knowledge of traditional oral knowledge of the Khoisan, the Nguni and the Sotho-speaking peoples . Traditional African medicine is holistic, involving both body and mind. Famous African medicinal plants include Acaccia senegal (source of gum Arabic), Aloeferox, Aloe vera, Artemisia afra, Asplanthus linearis, Boswellia sacra, Catha edulis, Commiphora myrrha, Harpagophytum procumbens, Catharanthus roseus, etc.
Like Africa, South American countries are also rich in biodiversity and diverse healing cultures, but information on the use of medicinal plants is sparse. The famous medicinal plants from this region are Cinchona pubescens, Erythrox-ylum coca, Ilex paraguariensis, Paullinia cupana, Spilanthes acmella and Uncar-ina tomentosa. The European healing system is believed to have originated with Hippocrates (460-377 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE). Subsequent naturalists like Theophrastus (^300 BCE), Dioscorides (100 CE) and the pharmacist Galen (130-200 CE) recorded the use of medicinal plants. The philosophy was based on the belief that the body is composed of earth, wind, fire and water, similar to the Indian system . The famous book De Materia Medica by the Greek physician Dioscorides was the standard reference in Europe for more than 1000 years. The use of herbal teas and decoctions is still very popular in Europe, e.g. teas prepared from Humulus lupulus, Rosmarinum officinalis, Hypericum perforum and Valeriana officinalis .
Though traditional and alternative medicine and its practitioners exist in Europe, it is not officially recognized and is punishable under the law in France, Italy, Spain and other countries, while it is unregulated in UK. This requires provisions in pharmacopoeias to include herbal drugs. Allopathic medicine is practiced predominantly in developed countries, and herbal drugs are categorized as food supplements and are not reimbursed by the social security system.
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