People have long relied on plants for their medicinal value. Demand, however, often leads to the degradation of these valuable resources. This study examines several medicinal plant species, their value to traditional and contemporary medicine, and the impact that overharvesting of these plants has on natural and human forest communities. It explores the discovery and use of medicinal plants by the herbal and pharmaceutical industries and the impact of such use on forest communities. The authors offer productive alternatives to overharvesting of wild populations, such as the Belize Ethnobotany Project. The study concludes with how traditional, herbal, and pharmaceutical industries that rely on medicinal plants must coexist and avoid the destruction of the rain forest and its communities.