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[Perspectives] Medicinal plants—the next generation

Medicinal plants have long had a role in supporting the health of human populations. Our Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors possessed extensive knowledge of the nutritional-medicinal properties of surrounding vegetation. Archaeological evidence suggests that bands of prehistoric people may have commonly reserved a role for shamans who had knowledge of the location and use of medicinal plants. The beginnings of the shift to agriculture around 12 000 years ago altered human relations with the natural landscape, reducing the biodiversity of plant species used by people.