Bioprospecting Rumphius's Ambonese Herbal: Volume I

J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan 4;96(1-2):57-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2004.08.016.


Collaborating with traditional healers remains a valid method for the identification of potential lead compounds for novel pharmaceuticals. However, the knowledge of these traditional healers is rapidly being lost. Historic herbal texts provide a unique window to identify plants whose specific uses are no longer known. We have identified nine plants in the 17th century Ambonese Herbal: Volume I which were documented as having medicinal properties but which have not been examined in the current literature. We demonstrate that by evaluating plant and herb efficacy reports from historic texts, in the context of comprehensive modern databases such as NAPRALERT, we can ultimately identify candidate specimens deserving further pharmacological study.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ethnobotany / history
  • Herbal Medicine* / history
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • Humans
  • Manuscripts, Medical as Topic
  • Medicine, Traditional* / history
  • Phytotherapy / history
  • Plant Extracts / history
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal*


  • Plant Extracts