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Northern Peru occupies the middle sector of the "health axis" of the Central Andean cultural area stretching from Bolivia to Ecuador. Few other places on the planet boast a medicinal flora as rich as this region. Archeological evidence traces the use of plants in traditional healing and divination practices back at least 2000 years. Five hundred years of suppression of traditional healing practices starting in colonial times and continuing to manifest in the prejudices of contemporary national administrations have not managed to destroy this tradition.
The most serious threat to this millennial tradition is the destruction of plant habitats. Climatic change and deforestation are threatening the mountain forest systems that are the source of many medicinal species. Most importantly, the high Andean ecosystems and sacred lagoons are in danger of being destroyed by large-scale mining activities.This illustrated identification guide for 510 medicinal plants of Northern Peru and their uses will hopefully help to keep the extensive tradtional knowledge of this area alive.