Category Archives: Health

Ethnomedicinal Plants of Jakholi

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Ethnomedicinal plants used by local inhabitants of Jakholi block, Rudraprayag district, western Himalaya, India

Singh A, Nautiyal MC, Kunwar RM, Bussmann RW
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Aug 24;13(1):49
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5571566

Uttarakhand State in Northwestern India
Uttarakhand State in Northwestern India [Source: Filpro, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators at H.N.B. Garhwal University, Practical Solution Consultancy Nepal, and the Missouri Botanical Garden conducted the first ethnomedicinal study in the Jakholi area of Rudraprayag district in the Uttarakhand state of northwestern India, to identify traditional medicinal plants used by the inhabitants to treat different ailments and document the associated knowledge of those medicinal plants.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, the authors describe the Jakholi Block as an especially valuable home of a wide range of medicinal plants and repository of traditional knowledge about their therapeutic uses:

“The study area is interesting due to wide geographic and climatic condition and medicinal plants diversity of Jakholi Block makes this region an especially valuable treasure home of a wide range of wild medicinal and aromatic plants. Ethnic people, shepherd and traditional medicinal practitioner (Vaidyas and Daai) inhabit within a range of 700–3800 m asl and have high knowledge of medicinal plants uses. Local wooden and stone tools are commonly used to prepare medicinal remedies. Most diseases cured by local herbalist are common problems such as respiratory diseases, aches and pains, wounds and musculoskeletal ailments. Inhabitants often use local medicinal plants without prior advice of local traditional healers because they are using these plants since generations. In these connections, the present study was carried out to provide an overview of the knowledge of medicinal plants of the local and traditional healers of Jakholi area and to evaluate the status of these useful medicinal flora for identification of new drugs for health needs and suitable source of income for livelihood of inhabitants. We hypothesize that plant use at Jakholi would show similar response to other Himalayan regions, and that the local medicinal flora would have been overharvested.”

Working with 25 key participants including traditional healers, shepherds, and other local inhabitants, the team identified 78 medicinal species used to treat 14 different ailments including diseases of the skin and hair, gastrointestinal disorders, ophthalmologic complaints, and mental afflictions, among others.

Two species, Aconitum heterophyllum and Picrorhiza kurroa, were identified as particularly important ethnomedicinally as they have been used for generations and contain rich bioactive constituents. They are are also among 29 of the documented medicinal plant species that are listed as locally threatened due to premature harvesting and over-exploitation. ​In their conclusion, the authors also note that while older people still possess large traditional knowledge of plants and their therapeutic uses, outmigration among the young threatens the future of this traditional ethnomedicinal knowledge.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plant Species of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

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Diversity of use and local knowledge of wild and cultivated plants in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa

Maroyi A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Aug 8;13(1):43
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5549312

Eastern Cape, South Africa
Eastern Cape, South Africa [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Alfred Maroyi of the Medicinal Plants and Economic Development Research Center, University of Fort Hare, conducted a study in six villages in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa, to assess useful plant species diversity, plant use categories, and local knowledge of both wild and cultivated useful species in the region.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Professor Maroyi notes that the majority of the inhabitants in the study sites are traditional isiXhosa speaking people who are highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. Working with 138 local informants, Maroyi documented 125 useful plant species, more than a third of them exotic and the remainder native. Approximately 75 percent were collected from the wild, 21 percent cultivated, and 5 percent “spontaneous” (growing without the assistance of humans).

Aloe arborescens
Aloe arborescens [Photo: Andrew massyn, Wikimedia Commons]
Most of the identified species (62 percent) were used as ethnoveterinary and human medicines. Documented species considered to have potential in the development of new medicinal products with commercial value include Acacia karroo, Alepidea amatymbica, Aloe arborescens (Aloe candelabro), Aloe ferox, Aloe marlothii, Artemisia afra, Bulbine frutescens, Carpobrotus edulis, Elephantorrhiza elephantina, Gunnera perpensa, Helichrysum nudifolium, Helichrysum odoratissimum, Hypoxis hemerocallidea, Leonotis leonurus, Lippia javanica, Mentha longifolia, Pittosporum viridiflorum, Prunus africana, Tulbaghia alliacea, Tulbaghia violacea, Typha capensis, Withania somnifera, Xysmalobium undulatum, and Ziziphus mucronata.

Of these, A. amatymbica, G. perpensa, H. hemerocallidea, and P. africana are threatened with extinction mainly because of over-exploitation for the traditional medicine trade.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants of Yalo, a Woreda in Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State

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An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal and edible plants of Yalo Woreda in Afar regional state, Ethiopia

Teklehaymanot T
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Jul 5;13(1):40
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5499056

Afar Regional State, Ethiopia
Afar Regional State, Ethiopia [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Tilahun Teklehaymanot of the Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, Addis Ababa University, conducted an ethnobotanical survey to document medicinal and edible plants used in Yalo, a woreda in Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Professor Teklehaymanot describes the vulnerability of traditional knowledge in Afar:

“The people in the Afar region have the lowest health and education coverage in the country with the highest food insecurity. They are a traditional society that has native and unique information exchange system by word of mouth called ‘Dagu,’ which their livelihood is very much dependent on the information transferred through Dagu system. The information ranges from weather to availability of grazing lands for their animals, and peace and security of the region. Nevertheless, the cultural transformation, expansion of modern education and development in the area could detach the younger generation from such cultural values and pastoral systems that lead to loss of traditional knowledge in general, and knowledge of medicinal and edible plants in particular.”

Acalypha fruticosa
Acalypha fruticosa [Photo: J.M.Garg, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 160 informants selected with the assistance of elders, the author documented 102 medicinal plant species used to treat human as well as livestock diseases. Particularly important plants (species reported by 15 and more informants and used as a remedy for multiple diseases) included Acacia mellifera, Acacia oerfota, Acalypha fruticosa, Acalypha indica, Balanites aegyptiaca, Balanites rotundifolia, Cadaba farinosa, Cadaba glandulosa, Cadaba rotundifolia, Celosia polystachia, and Indigofera oblongifolia.

The plants were used as remedies for a variety of conditions such as breast cancer, dyspepsia, epilepsy, herpes zoster, jaundice, lung infection, malaria, stomachache, bloody dysentery, and fever.

In his conclusion, the author recommends conservation to ensure sustainable use of the plants and protect the associated traditional knowledge.

“The edible plants are used as food security and generate the pastoralist economic. All the plants with medicinal and economic importance are collected from the wide and conservation is not practiced in the area. Hence, conservation of the plants in the home garden and in the natural vegetation is a necessity against the recurrent drought and climatic changes that negatively affect the vegetation of the area, to protect the associated traditional knowledge from fast disappearing and ensure sustainable use of the plants in the traditional healthcare system. The integration of edible plants in the food sufficiency strategies in the area has to be considered since animal productivity is severely affected by encroaching invasive plants and recurrent drought. The holistic soil and water conservation policy that is being implemented in other parts of the country has to be employed in the region to save the natural vegetation that is also the repository for the medicinal and edible plants for future pharmacological and nutritional studies.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Phase II Study of Abemaciclib in Patients With Oligodendroglioma

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A Single-Arm, Open-label, Phase II Study Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of Abemaciclib in Patients With Recurrent Oligodendroglioma

University of Pennsylvania
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03969706

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania [Photo: Penn Medicine]
Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania have started a Phase II, single-arm, open-label study looking how well abemaciclib (VerzenioTM, Lilly) works in patients with recurrent oligodendroglioma.

See additional details, including study location(s), eligibility criteria, contact information, and study results (when available) at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified clinical trials for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants Used for the Treatment of Diarrhea in Ethiopia

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Medicinal Plants Used for Treatment of Diarrhoeal Related Diseases in Ethiopia

Woldeab B, Regassa R, Alemu T, Megersa M
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Mar 18;2018
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5878875

Investigators from Jimma University and Hawassa College of Teacher Education conducted an inventory of plant species used in the treatment of diarrheal diseases by indigenous people of Ethiopia.

Writing in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the authors note that the World Health Organization has initiated a diarrhea disease control program to study traditional medicine practices and prevention approaches to the condition. Diarrhea is a leading killer of children, accounting for 9 percent of all deaths among children under age of five worldwide, with Sub-Saharan Africa having one of the highest child death rates due to diarrhea.

Allopathic study of antidiarrheal properties of medicinal plants used in Ethiopian traditional medicine is in early stages:

“Although there are a range of medicinal plants with antidiarrhoeal properties that have been widely used by local communities of Ethiopia, the effectiveness of many of these antidiarrhoeal traditional medicines has not been scientifically evaluated. Recently, a few of these medicinal plants have attracted considerable attention and studies being conducted to scientifically evaluate their antidiarrhoeal activities.”

The team recorded 132 plant species used to treat diarrheal diseases in Ethiopia, based on a review of studies published between 1965 and 2017.

Citrus limon
Citrus limon [Photo: WAH]
Among the most commonly used plants were Amaranthus caudatus, Brucea antidysenterica, Calpurnia aurea, Citrus limon, Coffea arabica, Cordia africana, Indigofera spicata, Lepidium sativum, Leucas deflexa, Rumex nepalensis, Stereospermum kunthianum, Syzygium guineense, Verbascum sinaiticum, Verbena officinalis, Vernonia amygdalina, and Zehneria scabra.

Most of the remedies were prepared from fresh parts of the medicinal plants, followed by dried forms, and a smaller group prepared either from dry or fresh plant parts. Additives like honey, salt, sugar, beer, milk, and butter were used to help make the plants suitable for oral administration.

The authors note that sufficient studies have not been conducted in the Afar, Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, and Somali regions for the inventory to be considered complete.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Ethnobotany, Climate Change & Conservation Strategies in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada del Cocuy-Güicán

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Ethnobotany of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy-Güicán: climate change and conservation strategies in the Colombian Andes

Rodríguez MA, Angueyra A, Cleef AM, Van Andel T
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2018 May 5;14(1):34
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5935911

Ritacuba Blanco, Parque Natural Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Chita o Guican
Ritacuba Blanco, Parque Natural Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Chita o Guican [Photo: Martin Roca, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators at Leiden University, Universidad de los Andes, University of Amsterdam, Wageningen University, and Naturalis Biodiversity Center conducted an ethnobotanical inventory among local farmer communities in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy-Güicán in the Colombian Andes in an effort to determine the effects of vegetation change on the availability of useful plants in the face of expanding agriculture, deforestation, tourism, and climate change.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, the authors note the importance of research to better understand the effect of climate change on human-vegetation dynamics:

“Climate change affects altitudinal plant distribution in high-elevation tropical mountains. Perceptions on climate change in mountain ecosystems indicate that local people can give relevant insights about climate change dynamics as they are narrowly acquainted with its surroundings. From an ethnobotanical approach, climate change affects human-vegetation dynamics, like altering the patterns of planting and harvesting in the Himalayas, disrupting traditional plant practices in British Columbia, and affecting the diversity of useful flora in alpine ecosystems, and therefore threatening the traditional knowledge associated with these plants. These studies stress the need to consider local people’s perspectives to reduce the impacts of climate warming. Changes in plant diversity as a consequence of climate processes show alarming effects on plant population over time. Predictions on the effects of climate warming in the Andean ecosystems include displacement, adaptations (physiological changes), and local extinction of plant communities. Ethnobotanical research in Andean mountain ecosystems have mostly focused on medicinal plant use by local communities. Research on non-medicinal plants of importance for the inhabitants of high altitude zones, or on local perceptions on the decline of useful plants related to climate change are lacking.”

The team worked with local farmer communities to record the ethnoflora of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy-Güicán, which has been protected as a Colombian national natural park since 1977 because of its fragile páramo (high altitude tropical wetland) ecosystems, extraordinary biodiversity, high plant endemism, and function as water reservoir.

In interviews, they posed the following questions:

  • What are the plant species used by the campesinos?
  • At what altitudes do they collect useful plants?
  • What is the proportion of native versus introduced species?
  • Have the campesinos noticed a reduction in plant availability?
  • Could potentially declining plant resources be associated with climate change?

They also walked into the field and along existing mountain trails with staff from the national park and local farmers to collect useful plant specimens, documenting 174 useful plants, 68 percent native to the area and 32 percent introduced.

The farmers noted a reduction of native and especially medicinal plant resources accessible to them, with species like Niphogeton dissecta being more difficult to find, having shifted to higher altitudes, possibly due to climate change. (Temperatures have increased 2 °C in the national park in less than four decades.)

In their conclusion, the authors stress the vital importance of placing local people as key actors to help prevent or at least mollify the degradation of the páramos and their cultural plant legacy:

“This study confirms the concern among local farmers about the melting snow, so it is crucial to include people’s perceptions on climate change to design effective conservation policies. During our workshops, we noticed that local farmers worried about the preservation of their natural resources. Local concerns can be solved with the implementation of environmental policies and active participation that take into account the local population needs. Courses on environmental conservation for local farmers are highly relevant, especially for those who are directly involved in the tourist business. Employees from the NNP-Cocuy, specialists on plant resources management and local people should work together to develop conservational strategies towards sustainable tourism and practices and accomplish the policies that were implemented since the opening of the NNP-Cocuy, such as obligatory-guided heritage tours, limited number of tourists, and no garbage disposal in the environment.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants Used by Saraguro Community Healers in Ecuador

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Ethnobotany of Indigenous Saraguros: Medicinal Plants Used by Community Healers “Hampiyachakkuna” in the San Lucas Parish, Southern Ecuador

Andrade JM, Lucero Mosquera H, Armijos C
Biomed Res Int. Epub 2017 Jul 4
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5514338

Investigators at the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL) conducted an ethnobotanical survey of the use of medicinal plants by community healers known as Hampiyachakkuna by the indigenous Saraguro people living in San Lucas Parish, Loja Province, Ecuador.

Writing in Biomed Research International, the authors note that this ethnobotanical knowledge is endangered by cultural changes:

“The community of healers locally known as ‘Hampiyachakkuna’ maintains the ancient medical treatments of the Saraguros. The ‘Yachak’ or ‘Hampi yachakkuna’ is the person who knows the curative properties of plants, animals, and/or minerals. Under the Andean cosmovision of the Saraguros ethnical group, the diseases they treat are thought to be produced by either cold or heat. As such, their natural medicines are classified as hot and fresh; and depending on the nature of the patient’s condition, different plants are selected for the treatment in accordance with this classification. However, although the knowledge regarding the usage of plants for medicinal practices has been transmitted orally from generation to generation, the Saraguros are experimenting cultural changes that threaten the preservation of their ancestral knowledge. These cultural changes lead to negative consequences such as the loss of traditional knowledge, a decline in the use of natural resources, and changes in the patterns of food intake, medical treatment, and, furthermore, their cosmovision. For these reasons, there is an urgent need to document and preserve their invaluable knowledge.”

Working with four healers from the Saraguro community – a Wachakhampiyachak (midwife), a Yurakhampiyachak (herbalist), a Kakuyhampiyachak (bone-healer), and a Rikuyhampiyachak (visionary) – the team documented 183 plant species used in 75 different curative therapies. Uses included mythological treatments, nervous system treatments, cold treatments, infection treatments, general malaise treatments, and inflammatory treatments of the liver and kidneys.

Siphocampylus scandens
Siphocampylus scandens [Photo: Dick Culbert, Wikimedia Commons]
Endemic medicinal species identified included Achyrocline hallii, Ageratina dendroides, Bejaria subsessilis, Brachyotum scandens, Dendrophthora fastigiata, Diplostephium juniperinum, Diplostephium oblanceolatum, Fuchsia hypoleuca, Huperzia austroecuadorica, Lepechinia paniculata, Phoradendron parietarioides, Siphocampylus scandens, and Salvia leucocephala. Most of the endemic plants in the group were determined to be in danger, threatened, or vulnerable.

The study was conducted under a technical and scientific collaborative effort of the UTPL, the Dirección Provincial de Salud de Loja, and the Consejo de Sanadores de Saraguro “with the objective of recognizing and recovering the traditional knowledge of herbal medicinal resources used by the Saraguro community”:

“Because of the increasing recognition of the importance of the different medicinal species used by the Saraguros and in an effort to preserve their knowledge, in this work we seek to contribute to the conservation strategy on the sustainable uses of the Ecuadorian medicinal biodiversity. The latter is considered a fundamental step in order to raise awareness of its cultural value and the importance of its preservation. By doing that, we intended to safeguard the popular knowledge concerning natural medicinal plants and to provide a baseline for future actions regarding scientific research programs, environmental education, social awareness, and sustainable natural resources exploitation…. The results of this research also aim at becoming a starting point to attract the attention of national and international tourists, in order to promote a self-sustaining development of the Saraguro community.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Ethnomedicinal Plants Used by Traditional Healers of Three Indigenous Communities in the Bandarban District of Bangladesh

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Quantitative Ethnobotany of Medicinal Plants Used by Indigenous Communities in the Bandarban District of Bangladesh

Faruque MO, Uddin SB, Barlow JW, Hu S, Dong S, Cai Q, Li X, Hu X
Front Pharmacol. 2018 Feb 6;9:40
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5808248

Investigators at Huazhong Agricultural University, University of Chittagong, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Hubei Cancer Hospital documented information on ethnomedicinal plants used by traditional healers of three indigenous communities in the Bandarban, a hilly, primarily agricultural district in southeastern Bangladesh.

The team chose three Bandarban district upazilas (administration regions) for the study (Naikhyonchari, Rowangchari, and Ruma) as their distance from cities make them some of the most remote areas of Bangladesh. Of the twelve indigenous communities, three (Chakma, Marma, and Tripura) are reported to employ ethnomedicinal herbal practices particularly heavily and were asked to participate in the interviews.

A total of 159 ethnomedicinal plant species, 128 of them native, were reported to be useful for therapeutic purposes including the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, as a sedative, for anti-tumor, anti-allergic, or carminative activity, for coughs and colds, and for boils and other skin ailments.

Congea tomentosa
Congea tomentosa [photo: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons]
The five most commonly used ethnomedicinal plant species were Duabanga grandiflora, Zingiber officinale, Congea tomentosa, Matricaria chamomilla, and Engelhardtia spicata. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, seven of the species documented in the study have never before been ethnobotanically and pharmacologically studied in Western scientific literature: Agastache urticifolia, Asarum cordifolium, Congea tomentosa, Engelhardia spicata, Hypserpa nitida, Merremia vitifolia, and Smilax odoratissima.

In their conclusion, the authors recommend a closer look at C. tomentosa and E. spicata in particular:

The present study showed that traditional treatment systems using medicinal plants is still prevalent in the studied areas, and it underlines the importance in the documentation of traditional ethnomedicinal knowledge before losing this diverse resource. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first quantitative ethnomedicinal study in the study area indicating UV, ICF, FC, RFC, RI, and JI indices. The present study records new ethnomedicinal species with their therapeutic uses, which can potentially lead to the development of new therapies and may represent novel bioresources for phytochemical and pharmacological studies, notably C. tomentosa and E. spicata, which have claimed anticancer effects by the healers of all studied indigenous communities in the study area.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Phase I Clinical Trial of JNJ-67571244 in Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia or Myelodysplastic Syndrome

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A Study of JNJ-67571244 in Participants With Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) or Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

Janssen Research & Development
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03915379

Janssen Research & DevelopmentInvestigators at Janssen Research & Development have opened a Phase I clinical trial to determine the recommended dose(s) (RP2D), schedule, maximum tolerated dose, safety and tolerability, and preliminary clinical activity of JNJ-67571244 (a bispecific antibody targeting CD33 and CD3) in adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia or myelodysplastic syndromes who are ineligible for or have exhausted standard therapeutic options.

One center, the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, Tennessee, is currently recruiting participants. Other centers planned for the study in the United States and Spain are not yet recruiting.

See additional details, including study location(s), eligibility criteria, contact information, and study results (when available) at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified clinical trials for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Wild Vegetables of Sicily

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The wild taxa utilized as vegetables in Sicily (Italy): a traditional component of the Mediterranean diet

Geraci A, Amato F, Di Noto G, Bazan G, Schicchi R
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2018 Feb 14;14(1):14
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5813353

Investigators at Università degli Studi di Palermo, ARPA Sicilia, and Dipartimento Regionale dello Sviluppo Rurale e Territoriale – Regione Siciliana conducted an ethnobotanical field investigation to identify wild native species traditionally gathered and consumed as vegetables in Sicily and highlight new culinary uses of those plants.

From the introduction:

“Wild vegetables play a very important role in the diet of the people living in Sicily, an island located in the middle of the Mediterranean region. In the past, people used to go almost daily, especially during the winter and spring, to the countryside and the margins of cultivated fields and woods, looking for wild vegetables to eat. This alimentary habit derived substantially from the situation of poverty in which most of the rural and urban population lived. In the last 40 years, the eating habits of Sicilian people, like those of other populations living in Western countries, have greatly changed, and wild vegetable flavors are almost unknown to young people. The elderly and those who still have strong links with the country follow a strictly Mediterranean-style diet instead. They know the best gathering seasons for the wild vegetables, and they are able to recognize and cook them according to established traditional practices. In recent years, several studies on wild food plants have been carried out to preserve the traditional knowledge linked to their use in Sicily.”

Umbilicus rupestris
Umbilicus rupestris [Photo: sannse, Wikimedia Commons]
The team interviewed 980 people over the age of fifty — mainly farmers, shepherds, and experts on local traditions — in 187 towns and villages. They documented 253 species of wild vegetables, 72 of them eaten only in Sicily and 26 cited in this paper for the first time. Several so-called “ancient vegetables” were also included (Onopordum illyricum, Centaurea calcitrapa, Nasturtium officinale, Scolymus spp., Smyrnium rotundifolium). At least two species of wild vegetables, Umbilicus rupestris and Umbilicus horizontalis, are also known for uses in traditional medicine.

In their conclusion, the authors make an eloquent and compelling argument for conservation of these useful plants, and knowledge about them, as they are “healthy and authentic ingredients for local and ancient recipes” that are “fundamental to the revitalization of quality food strictly connected to traditional agroecosystems.”

“Wild vegetables, with the traditions, customs, and practices surrounding them, are a part of the Sicilian cultural heritage, which unfortunately every day is at risk of disappearing under the pressure of globalization. This situation may, in a few decades, lead to the loss of the knowledge acquired throughout the centuries by generations of farmers, herders, foresters and other people who lived closely together with nature. Such a loss would be very heavy because it would deprive the population of a food source of considerable interest from a qualitative point of view. Non-cultivated vegetables are rich in nutritional components that are often present in smaller quantities in species of cultivated varieties, which are selected for their high manufacturing yields. In times of possible food shortages, the population would no longer be able to identify the food resources available.

“In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in non-cultivated vegetables, for both cognitive and consumption reasons, because of the growing demand for healthy foods related to a specific territory that is connected to identity. Wild vegetables are, in fact, the best ambassadors of the site in which they live. They are able to please tourists through the many local culinary preparations, expressing a solid and layered cultural tradition. The latter represents the real added value of a raw material that is obtained in an environment unique in its biological characteristics, soil, climate, and history, and which can be considered as the most expressive and symbolic cradle of the Mediterranean diet.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

Send email to avery@williamaveryhudson.com for information about submitting qualified published research for sponsored posts on this blog.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.