Background: Herbal medicine is a popular part of primary health care in Switzerland. Following an ethnobotanical approach, in this study we seek to identify Swiss herbalists with broad, empirical medicinal plant knowledge and use. We aim to consider different areas of the medicinal landscape including biomedicine, complementary and alternative medicine, and self-medication.
Material and Methods: A total of 61 expert interviews were conducted from February 2010 to November 2011. The transfer of knowledge was analyzed according to a Switzerland-related selection of historical and recent popular as well as scientific herbal books.
Results: A total of 254 medicinal plant species, belonging to 218 genera and 87 families, were recorded in 934 use reports. Predominantly leaves and flowers are used for the treatment of dermatological, respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal problems. Recent to historical herbal books are an important source of plant knowledge.
Conclusions: Medicinal plants are used for self-medication and professional health care and despite different underlying medicinal concepts and philosophies, herbalists largely agree on the most important medicinal plant species.