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January 25, 1995

Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest

Author Affiliations

University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston


by Mark J. Plotkin, 318 pp, with illus, $22, ISBN 0-670-83137-9, New York, NY, Viking, 1993.

JAMA. 1995;273(4):355-356. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520280103059

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This is the first major publication by Mark Plotkin, a talented scientist who is also a gifted storyteller. He has made numerous, extensive trips into the rain forests of South America over the past two decades in a quest to uncover important elements of the native knowledge of pharmacology and the medical practice of the tribal shamans. His observations and conclusions are compelling, and if you only have time to read one book about the vital connection between the protection of the tropical rain forests, the preservation of a disappearing culture, and the pharmaceuticals that you use in your daily practice, this is the book to read.

Plotkin is an ethnobotanist, a scientist engaged in the systematic study of how the native people in a geographic region use their local plants. His work takes him into remote areas in search of tribal shamans, the special people who hold this knowledge

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