HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Paris, France or Virtually from your home or work.

8th Edition of International Conference on

Traditional Medicine, Ethnomedicine and Natural Therapies

June 05-07, 2025 | Rome, Italy

Traditional Medicine 2023

Why do Americans choose herbal and ethnomedicine therapies? Ethnobotanical evaluation of the endurance and function of the Modern Herbal Synthesis

Speaker at Traditional Medicine, Ethnomedicine and Natural Therapies 2023 - Karol Chandler Ezell
Stephen F Austin State University, United States
Title : Why do Americans choose herbal and ethnomedicine therapies? Ethnobotanical evaluation of the endurance and function of the Modern Herbal Synthesis


After two decades of studying Americans’ use of herbal and traditional medical therapies, much has changed, but the core reasons for choosing these “alternative” remedies remain the same. My original study’s purpose was to use ethnobotanical methods to understand the current knowledge, beliefs, and use of herbal medicine in the central United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The data showed that Western herbal medicine was a "modern herbal synthesis" shaped from three source traditions-- classic Western herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Native American herbal medicine and that it was best understood as a part of cultural evolution known as a revitalization movement. In short, when a society’s cultural systems (such as medical care) do not meet the needs of a significant portion of people, they seek alternative paradigms that do offer them what they need. Two decades later, this trend continues. Traditional medicine, ethnomedicine, and natural therapies have solidified their place in a modern global society and in the United States, in particular, because they meet needs unfulfilled by Western allopathic medicine. Theme and qualitative analysis of modern information sources and popular ethnomedical therapies show that the same core reasons people choose these therapies remain the same. People are more likely to use herbal remedies for illnesses not satisfactorily treated by Western allopathic medicine. These failings could be comforted during treatment, balancing spiritual, cultural, or ethical beliefs during therapy, ideas of acceptable side effects, personal control, or a desire for sustainable solutions


Dr. Chandler-Ezell studied Biology and Physical Science at University of Central Arkansas, graduating from the UCA Honors College. She then earned an M.S. in Botany from Oklahoma State University. She then joined the University of Missouri Anthropology Dept and worked in the Paleoethnobotany Lab, earning her PhD. in 2003. After a 2-year NIMH post-doctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine, she earned a Masters of Psychiatric Epidemiology before joining the faculty of Stephen F. Austin State University. She researches and teaches in ethnobiology and biocultural anthropology, with a special interest in ritual behavior, adaptive culture, and ethnomedicine.