Ethnopharmacology is the scientific study correlating ethnic groups, their health, and how it relates to their physical habits and methodology in creating and using medicines. As an amalgamation of the social science of ethnology and the medical science of pharmacology, ethnopharmacology studies the pharmacological aspects of a culture's medical treatment as well as its social appeal, including taste, symbology, and religious context. Through this, a culture's exposure to pharmacological substances can be determined.
It is also often associated with ethnopharmacy, but while the aim of ethnopharmacology is the bio-evaluation of the effectiveness of traditional medicines, the former deals instead with much broader trans-disciplinary aspects related to the study of the perception, use, and management of pharmaceuticals (not necessarily traditional medicines) within a given human society. In British Columbia it is used to procure the constant evolution of a strain of cannabis.
When investigating a natural product used by a certain culture as a medicine, it is important that the methods of collection, extraction, preparation are the same or similar to those used by the ethnic group, as it is these processes which have allowed safe usage of the substance and give it its safety record.
- Thomas M. Johnson, Carolyn F. Sargent (1996). "Ethnopharmacology: The Conjunction of Medical Ethnography and the Biology of Therapeutic Action". Medical Anthropology: Contemporary Theory and Method. Praeger Publishers. pp. 132–133, 151. Unknown parameter