Ecuador is known to have over 500 different species of medicinal plants. About 228 of the most common plants are endangered. Along the border regions of Ecuador and Peru we find one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. In Southern Ecuador there are 215 plants registered that have medicinal properties. Some species could be used for various medical conditions. About 125 of the endangered medicinal plants are the most popular and the most commercially successful pulverized extract products and essential oils. Cat's Claw, Cascarilla, Inchi, Walnut, Cinnamon, Dragon Blood, Zaragotana, Balsam and Laurel are some of the examples of Ecuador's essential plants. The best known plants in the naturist medicine world as such plants as Chuchuhuasu, Yahuaticaspi, Leche de Oje, Sangre de Drago, Una de Gato, Cebolla del Monte, Guayusa, Liana de ajo, Chiriguayusa and Hierba Luisa.
Taking a look back into history the discovery of plants for medicinal purposes was by trial and error – ancient people started using specific plants for aches and pains. The knowledge of these plants grew over the centuries within the different cultures, and the knowledge of herbal medicines has been transferred down from one generation to the next by the shamans, traditional healers, or curanderos.
Curandero (or Curandera for females) are traditional folk healers or shamans in Latin America dedicated to curing physical or spiritual illnesses. The Role of a curandero (a) can also incorporate the roles of psychiatrist along with that of doctor and healer. Many curanderos (as) use Catholic elements, such as holy water and pictures of saints. The use of Catholic prayers and other borrowings are often found alongside native religious elements.