September 1, 1998

Polynesian ethnobotanicals: a critical role in new drug discovery

Charles D. Boyd, Alika Maunakea, Lawrence J. Mordan, and Katalin Csiszar

Pacific Health Dialog, Journal of Community Health and Clinical Medicine for the Pacific – The Health of Native Hawaiians

Extracts of plants from Polynesian sources, particularly plants indigenous to the Hawaiian islands, have been used for centuries to assist in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases.  Over the last few years, preparations from plants such as noni (Morinda citrifolia) have appeared in abundant quantities in the rapidly expanding herbal market in North America and Europe.  The health related claims associated with these plant extracts, however, are almost entirely unsupported by any legitimate scientific evidence and considerable care needs to be taken to explore both the biological and clinical effects of these extracts if the full clinical potential of Polynesian ethnobotanicals is to be realized.

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