Document Type


Publication Date



Cambodians address symptomatic illness in two ways: they use traditional medicine, including medicinal plants, and biomedicine. Despite various attempts to quantify medicinal ethnobotany in Cambodia, no national ethnopharmacopoeia exists, and there is a gap in the literature regarding the mechanisms through which traditional medicines are prepared and used. This report presents an examination of the ethnopharmacopoeia of two villages within Phnom Kulen National Park, a study site chosen for its unique ecology and status as one of Cambodia’s last remaining regions with lowland evergreen and semi-evergreen forest. The report also investigates the mechanisms through which villagers make decisions regarding illness treatment with traditional medicine or biomedicine. Semi-structured interviews conducted during April 2016 in Sangkae Lak and Ta Penh revealed 161 botanical species in current traditional medicine use, and 111 of these species were new to the School for Field Studies medicinal plant taxonomy. Regarding the decision-making process involved in medicating illness, respondents articulated that biomedicine and traditional medicine were effective for different purposes. Traditional medicine was considered successful in addressing chronic illness or long-term treatment, but biomedicine was considered better for acute illness. This report also reveals that the decision-making processes involved in medicating illness in these villages are multi-faceted and affected by government intervention. Furthermore, the disparate ways in which general community members, traditional medicine practitioners and government agents understand drug interactions is hugely impactful in community decisions to use traditional medicine or biomedicine. This research contributes to the knowledge of medicinal ethnobotany and community health decisions on Phnom Kulen.


Undergraduate Research Awards - 2017 Winner, Junior/Senior category

Taylor Walker essay.pdf (97 kB)
Taylor Walker - Submission Essay