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History behind the formation of the Tanaduk Botanical Research Institute

The practices and principles of Tibetan medicine hold tremendous promise as a supplement to worldwide healthcare. A precursor step to making this happen is for Tibetan medicine to be sustained where it is now practiced. Physicians trained in the Tibetan system must work together with people knowledgeable in other holistic medical traditions. Tibetan medicine's herbal resources must become available to people all over the world!

Dr. Bradley Dobos was trained in Tibetan Medicine by the great physicians of H.H. The Dalai Lama's Institute of Tibetan Medicine and many other Tibetan medical Lamas. He recognized a dire need existed to conserve and cultivate botanicals used in Tibetan medicine using in-situ and ex-situ conservation. He saw that immediate efforts must be undertaken to sustain the plants that provide the ingredients of the current medicines and the ecologies that support them.There was also the desire to cultivate species that cannot be preserved in the wild.

The history of the use of herbal medicines is as old as the social and cultural groupings of human beings. The great medical traditions of mankind (Ayurvedic, Chinese, Siddha, and Unani) have ancient connections with Tibetan medicine, using similar principles and some of the same herbs. Tibetan medicine is the therapeutic system largely used by the Buddhist community for healthcare since time immemorial. However, with the changing lifestyle of the Buddhist community, this age-old system is in jeopardy. Apart from a few countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, the traditional use of herbs in treatment has been neglected for a long period due to the advent of allopathic medicine. Although allopathic medicine can cure a wide range of diseases, its high price and side effects are causing many to return to herbal medicines that have fewer side effects. In recent years, collecting medicinal herbs has become increasingly difficult. The natural availability of herbs has decreased and important herbs have disappeared in some regions. This is due not only to environmental changes and over grazing but also to the exploitation of herbs as a result of increased population pressure. A growing demand for these herbs exists from large neighboring countries.

Prior to 1992, villagers in India collected botanicals without any restrictions. Now, the collection of herbs from National Parks in India has been banned by the Forest Department, although in some states permits are issued for it. To cultivate some of the rare medicinal plants, cultivators must often have permission from the Government, but the procedure can be lengthy and difficult. A reliable purchase price is also a troublesome factor for cultivators. Some medicinal plants are traded to India from Nepal at a much cheaper rate, resulting in the devaluation of indigenous products. In areas where no legal trade is allowed, evidence of illegal trade exists. Additionally, local markets pay more for plants than do Co-operative Societies. Thus cultivators often prefer to sell to local markets.

To mitigate the pressure on these valuable herbs, Dr. Dobos realized that it was essential that a proper scheme be developed for their sustainable use. If not prevented, the loss of plants would be huge. In time, the patenting of plants and plant products used in Tibetan medicine by commercial agencies could deprive the native physicians of the benefit of their traditional knowledge. An overview of available literature reveals that there is a critical lack of Tibetan medicinal plant documentation in English.

The Tanaduk Botanical Research Institute began the process of setting up protection of endangered plants by teaching wildcrafting methods and developing conservation sites. It was at that time Tanaduk decided to use the ever abundant Tibetan Lycium 'Goji' berry as a vehicle to save endangered botanicals used in traditional medicines. Tanaduk Institute created the name 'Goji' and brought the Tibetan lycium 'Goji' berry into the world view in 1974. The intention was to bring awareness of endangered plants used in Tibetan and traditional Himalayan medicine into world view. In addition,  it was to support propagation and conservation projects for these endangered plants.

Tanaduk Institute's officers set up many protection standards to preserve the 'Goji' growing areas from over harvesting and for appropriate distribution of this special berry. The Tibetan Goji Berry Company was established to be a single controller for distribution requests because the Tibetan Goji berry is a limited wildcrafted harvest. It has been used for centuries as a nutritious food by Tibetan medical monasteries, clinics, doctors for medicine and lay people. Tanaduk Institute protection protocols insist that the traditional users are proportioned their needs first. The rest is made available for the world market.

Tanaduk Botanical Research Institute is staffed primarily with Tibetan Lamas, Tibetan and Indian doctors and botanical researchers who began collaboration and Tibetan Lycium 'Goji' research under Dr. Bradley Dobos's direction in 1974. The Tibetan Goji Berry Company is the actual world comptroller / supplier of authentic 'Goji.' It was the first to present research on the Tibetan Lycium 'Goji' and to bring it to the world market.

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