According to estimates of the World Health Organization more than 80 per cent of the world population uses traditional medicinal plants to provide primary health care, particularly in developing countries. However in such countries traditional knowledge regarding the use of medicinal plants has been significantly lost. Moreover the availability of these plants has been dramatically reduced as a result of habitat degradation, especially in tropical forests. Ethnobotanical research could contribute to avoid the loss of traditional knowledge as well as to protect biodiversity. The interdisciplinary nature of ethnobotany allows for a wide range of approaches and applications. Nevertheless, little interchange of theories and methods among related disciplines has taken place to date, resulting in the predominance of descriptive works, which are primarily limited to compilations of useful plants. In addition, very rarely the intellectual property rights of local communities are recognized. In order to overcome this situation, the current approaches of the ethnobotanical research emphasize the development of wide-scoped interdisciplinary projects, which begin by recording traditional knowledge, recognize intellectual property rights and culminate in establishing strategies designed to reward the communities for the benefits obtained during the investigation. In the present paper we analyze the goals and current approaches applied on ethnobotanical research, as well as the different stages that interdisciplinary research projects regarding medicinal plants should cover.