The south Indian State of Karnataka, once part of several kingdoms and princely states of repute in the Deccan peninsula, is rich in its historic, cultural and anthropological heritage. The State is the home to 42,48,987 tribal people, of whom 50,870 belong to the primitive group. Although these people represent only 6.95 per cent of the population of the State, there are as many as 50 different tribes notified by the Government of India, living in Karnataka, of which 14 tribes including two primitive ones, are primarily natives of this State. Extreme poverty and neglect over generations have left them in poor state of health and nutrition. Unfortunately, despite efforts from the Government and non-Governmental organizations alike, literature that is available to assess the state of health of these tribes of the region remains scanty. It is however, interesting to note that most of these tribes who had been original natives of the forests of the Western Ghats have been privy to an enormous amount of knowledge about various medicinal plants and their use in traditional/folklore medicine and these practices have been the subject matter of various scientific studies. This article is an attempt to list and map the various tribes of the State of Karnataka and review the studies carried out on the health of these ethnic groups, and the information obtained about the traditional health practices from these people.