Category Archives: Social Progress

Medicinal Plants Used Around Mabira Central Forest Reserve, Uganda

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Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plant species used by communities around Mabira Central Forest Reserve, Uganda

Tugume P, Kakudidi EK, Buyinza M, Namaalwa J, Kamatenesi M, Mucunguzi P, Kalema J.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jan 13;12:5
PubMed Central: PMC4712608

Investigators from Makerere University conducted an ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in 14 villages adjacent to Mabira Central Forest Reserve in Central Uganda, an area about 20 km north of Lake Victoria shoreline immediately to the west of Victoria Nile.

More about the study area:

“The forest reserve occupies gently undulating landscape characterised by numerous flat-topped hills (relics of the ancient African peneplain), and wide shallow valleys…

“Commercial use of the forest began when some parts were harvested in the early 1900’s and until 1988, intensive coffee/banana agricultural encroachment badly damaged parts of the forest. About 21% and 26% of the reserve have been designated as strict nature reserve and buffer zone respectively and the forest in these areas is recovering following extensive plantings of native tree species.

“The human population living in the forest enclaves was approximately 825,000 with a density of 200–230 people per Km-2. The local people are mainly of the Bantu ethnic group of the following tribes; Baganda, Banyarwanda, Basoga, Bagisu, Bakiga, Banyankole, Bagwere and Batoro.

“The reserve has tea and sugarcane plantations around. Some local people reside in settlements for labourers on the tea and sugarcane estates. The extent of growing cash crops other than tea and sugar cane is limited by scarcity of land. However locals are engaged in cultivation of food crops mainly for subsistence consumption like maize, beans, bananas, ground nuts, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Livestock rearing is limited to a few households.”

The team documented 190 plant species used in the treatment of various health conditions. The ten most important medicinal plant species were Vernonia amygdalina, Mormodica feotida, Warbugia ugandensis, Prunus africana, Piptadeniastrum africana, Erythrina abyssinica, Albizia corriaria, Spathodea campanulata, Mondia whitei, and Alstonia boonei.

Vernonia amygdalina
Vernonia amygdalina [Photo: By Kwameghana (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
Vernonia amygdalina was found to be an especially important species, with a fidelity level of 100% and ranking highest in the treatment of malaria:

“Its leaf extract has been confirmed for having good anti-malarial effects and through in vitro studies. Vernonia amygdalina contains steroid glycosides, sesquiterpene and lactones which are active against Plasmodium falciparum. This species has also been found to be clinically effective for the treatment of malaria patients. In human trials, extracts of Vernonia amygdalina reduced parastaemia by 32%. Although Vernonia amygdalina is effective for malaria treatment, it can induce labour in pregnant women thus causing miscarriages and therefore should be avoided by them. Species with high fidelity level such as Vernonia amygdalina for malaria and Erythrina abyssinica for vomiting indicates that these species two were considered of great cultural significance. Erythrina abyssinica too has a wide range of use varying from treatment of malaria, syphilis, tuberculosis to amoebiasis in Uganda. In Kenya E. abyssinica is used to treat mumps, respiratory tract infections in Mexico and febrile illness in Ethiopia. Its usage for different ailments is possibly due to a wide range of bioactive compounds.”

In their conclusion, the authors found that “the diversity of medicinal plant species used and the associated indigenous knowledge are of great value to the local community and their conservation and preservation is paramount.”

“The study shows that [Mabira Central Forest Reserve] habours a wide diversity of plant species used as remedies for several ailments. Such plants are very useful especially to people who cannot afford modern medical care and in cases where access to modern heath facilities is not easy. Knowledge and use of herbal medicine for treatment of various ailments among the local people is still part of their life and culture and this calls for preservation of the integrity of the forest and indigenous knowledge of herbal medicine use. The documented plants have potential of being used in drug development.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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.




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Ethnobotanical Survey of Plants Used in Turkey’s Afyonkarahisar Province

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Ethnobotanical survey of plants used in Afyonkarahisar-Turkey

Arı S, Temel M, Kargıoğlu M, Konuk M
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Dec 23;11:84
PubMed Central: PMC4690277

Researchers from Afyon Kocatepe University and Üsküdar University conducted an ethnobotanical study to show uses of wild plants associated with medicinal, food, fodder, and household goods within the boundaries of Afyonkarahisar province in the Aegean region of Turkey:

“Afyonkarahisar located at the intersection of roads and phytogeographical regions (Mediterranean, Iran-Turan, and Euro-Siberian) has more than 2500 plant species.”

The team recorded and collected 130 plant taxa used for medicinal, food, fodder, household goods, dyes, handicrafts, and religious purposes.

Urtica dioica
Urtica dioica (Photo: WAH)

Species used for medicinal purposes included Achillea millefolium, Agrostemma githago, Amaranthus retroflexus, Anchusa azurea, Bellis perennis, Capsella bursa-pastoris, Chelidonium majus, Crataegus monogyna, Dianthus zonatus, Ficus carica, Dracunculus vulgaris, Hypericum perforatum, Melissa officinalis, Mentha longifolia, Morus alba, Origanum vulgare, Papaver dubium, Peganum harmala, Plantago major, Rosa canina, Salix alba, Thymus spp., Tribulus terrestris, and Urtica dioica.

The authors note that the rich traditional ethnobotanical knowledge of the region is in decline:

“Because villagers are generally migrating to big cities and benefiting from the facilities of modern medicine, the heritage of traditional ethnobotanical knowledges is decreasing dramatically. Although this relieve[s] some of the pressures on some plant species, documenting and [analyzing] the indigenous wild plants’ ethnobotanical usages through ethnobotanical studies is still important for the conservation of traditional ethnobotanical knowledge.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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.




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Hold Democratic Senators Accountable for Their Votes on Trump’s Cabinet

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Here are the Democratic members of committees responsible for approving or denying Donald Trump’s cabinet. I will record their final roll call votes here, so they can be held accountable.

Updated 27 April 2017

Secretary of Agriculture: Trump nominee – Sonny Perdue (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Democratic members (10)
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) – yes
Patrick Leahy (Vermont) – yes
Sherrod Brown (Ohio) – yes
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) – yes
Michael Bennet (Colorado) – yes
Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) – no
Joe Donnelly (Indiana) – yes
Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) – yes
Robert Casey (Pennsylvania) – yes
Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) – yes

Secretary of Defense: Trump nominee – James Mattis (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Armed Services
Democratic members (12)
Jack Reed (Rhode Island) – yes
Bill Nelson (Florida) – yes
Claire McCaskill (Missouri) – yes
Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) – yes
Kirsten Gillibrand (New York)  – no
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) – yes
Joe Donnelly (Indiana) – yes
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii)  – yes
Tim Kaine (Virginia) – yes
Martin Heinrich (New Mexico) – yes
Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) – yes
Gary Peters (Michigan) – yes

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Trump nominee – Ben Carson (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Democratic members (11)
Sherrod Brown (Ohio) – yes
Jack Reed (Rhode Island) – no
Robert Menendez (New Jersey) – no
Jon Tester (Montana) – yes
Mark Warner (Virginia) – no
Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) – no
Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) – yes
Joe Donnelly (Indiana) – yes
Brian Schatz (Hawaii) – no
Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) – no
Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) – no

Secretary of Transportation: Trump nominee – Elaine Chao (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Commerce, Science and Transportation
Democratic members (13)
Bill Nelson (Florida) – yes
Maria Cantwell (Washington) – yes
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) – yes
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) – yes
Brian Schatz (Hawaii) – yes
Edward Markey (Massachusetts) – yes
Cory Booker (New Jersey) – no
Tom Udall (New Mexico) – yes
Gary Peters (Michigan) – yes
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) – yes
Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) – yes
Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) – yes
Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) – yes

Secretary of Commerce: Trump nominee – Wilbur Ross (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Commerce, Science and Transportation
Democratic members (13)
Bill Nelson (Florida) – yes
Maria Cantwell (Washington) – no
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)  – yes
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) – no
Brian Schatz (Hawaii) – yes
Edward Markey (Massachusetts) – no
Cory Booker (New Jersey) – no
Tom Udall (New Mexico) – no
Gary Peters (Michigan) – no
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) – no
Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) – yes
Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) – yes
Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) – yes

Secretary of Energy: Trump nominee – Rick Perry (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Energy and Natural Resources
Democratic members (9)
Maria Cantwell (Washington) – no
Ron Wyden (Oregon) – no
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) – yes
Al Franken (Minnesota) – no
Joe Manchin (West Virginia) – yes
Martin Heinrich (New Mexico) – no
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) – no
Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) – no
Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) – yes

Secretary of Interior: Trump nominee – Ryan Zinke (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Energy and Natural Resources
Democratic members (11)
Maria Cantwell (Washington) – no
Ron Wyden (Oregon) – yes
Bernard Sanders (Vermont) – no
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) – no
Al Franken (Minnesota) – no
Joe Manchin (West Virginia) – yes
Martin Heinrich (New Mexico) – yes
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) – no
Angus King (Maine) – yes
Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) – no
Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) – yes

Secretary of Treasury: Trump nominee – Steve Mnuchin (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Finance
Democratic members (12)
Ron Wyden (Oregon) – no
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) – no
Maria Cantwell (Washington) – no
Bill Nelson (Florida) – no
Robert Menendez (New Jersey) – no
Thomas Carper (Delaware) – no
Benjamin Cardin (Maryland) – no
Sherrod Brown (Ohio) – no
Michael Bennet (Colorado) – no
Robert Casey (Pennsylvania) – no
Mark Warner (Virginia) – no
Claire McCaskill (Missouri) – no

Secretary of State: Trump nominee – Rex Tillerson (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Foreign Relations
Democratic members (9)
Bob Menendez (New Jersey) – no
Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) – no
Christopher Coons (Delaware) – not voting
Tom Udall (New Mexico) – no
Chris Murphy (Connecticut) – no
Tim Kaine (Virginia) – no
Edward J. Markey (Massachusetts) – no
Jeff Merkley (Oregon) – no
Cory Booker (New Jersey) – no

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Trump nominee – Tom Price (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Democratic members (11)
Patty Murray (Washington) – no
Bernard Sanders (Vermont) – no
Robert Casey (Pennsylvania) – no
Al Franken (Minnesota) – no
Michael Bennet (Colorado) – no
Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) – no
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) – no
Christopher Murphy (Connecticut) – no
Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) – no
Tim Kaine (Virginia) – no
Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) – no

Secretary of Education: Trump nominee – Betsy DeVos (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Democratic members (11)
Patty Murray (Washington) – no
Bernard Sanders (Vermont) – no
Robert Casey (Pennsylvania) – no
Al Franken (Minnesota) – no
Michael Bennet (Colorado) – no
Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) – no
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) – no
Christopher Murphy (Connecticut) – no
Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) – no
Tim Kaine (Virginia) – no
Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) – no

Secretary of Labor: Trump nominee – Andrew Puzder (withdrawn)
Replacement Trump nominee: R. Alexander Acosta (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Democratic members (10)
Patty Murray (Washington) – no
Robert Casey (Pennsylvania) – no
Al Franken (Minnesota) – no
Michael Bennet (Colorado) – no
Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) – no
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) – no
Christopher Murphy (Connecticut) – no
Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) – no
Tim Kaine (Virginia) – no
Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) – no

Secretary of Homeland Security: Trump nominee – John Kelly (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Democratic members (7)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri) – yes
Thomas Carper (Delaware) – yes
Jon Tester (Montana) – yes
Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) – yes
Gary Peters (Michigan)  – yes
Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) – yes
Kamala Harris (California) – no

Attorney General (Department of Justice): Trump nominee – Jeff Sessions (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Judiciary
Democratic members (9)
Dianne Feinstein (California) – no
Patrick Leahy (Vermont) – no
Richard Durbin (Illinois) – no
Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) – no
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) – no
Al Franken (Minnesota) – no
Christopher Coons (Delaware) – no
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) – no
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) – no

Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs: Trump nominee – David Shulkin (confirmed)
Responsible Committee: Veterans’ Affairs
Democratic members (7)
Jon Tester (Montana) – yes
Patty Murray (Washington) – yes
Bernard Sanders (Vermont) – yes
Sherrod Brown (Ohio) – yes
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) – yes
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) – yes
Joe Manchin (West Virginia) – yes

100 Reasons to Read Alan Moore’s “Jerusalem”

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  1. Aegburth/Peter/Le Canal
  2. Allen, Freddy
  3. The Archangel Michael (“Mighty Mike”) [wikipedia]
  4. Arnold, Sir Malcolm Henry [wikipedia]
  5. Asmodeus (“Sam O’Day”) [wikipedia]
  6. Badger, Bill
  7. Ball, Joe
  8. Becket, Thomas à [wikipedia]
  9. Beckett, Samuel Barclay [wikipedia]
  10. Blair, Anthony (Tony) Charles Lynton [wikipedia]
  11. Blake, William [wikipedia]
  12. Borough Waste Destructor (“The Destructor”)
  13. Bumble, George
  14. Bunyan, John [wikipedia]
  15. Chaplin, Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” (“Oatsie”) [wikipedia]
  16. Chaplin, Hannah (unidentified woman?) [wikipedia]
  17. Clare, John [wikipedia]
  18. Clarke, Patsy
  19. Cockie, James
  20. Cody, William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” [wikipedia]
  21. Cromwell, Oliver [wikipedia]
  22. Dadd, Richard [wikipedia]
  23. Daniels, Dave
  24. Daniels, Joyce and Bernard
  25. Doddridge, Elizabeth “Tetsie”
  26. Doddridge, Mercy (née Maris)
  27. Doddridge, Philip [wikipedia]
  28. Driscoll, Marjorie Miranda (“Drowned Marjorie”)
  29. The Drowned World (Ballard) [wikipedia]
  30. Finnegans Wake (Joyce) [wikipedia]
  31. Flatland (Abbott) [wikipedia]
  32. Forbidden Worlds [wikipedia]
  33. Fowler, Reginald James (“Reggie Bowler”)
  34. Gebbie, Melinda [wikipedia]
  35. George, Henry (“Black Charley”)*
  36. George, Selina
  37. Ghavan, John (“Little John”) [IMDb]
  38. Gibbs
  39. Goodman, Robert [IMDb]
  40. Hall, Tom [youtube]
  41. Hervey, James [wikipedia]
  42. The Holy War (Bunyan)
  43. Jack the Ripper [wikipedia]
  44. Jerusalem (Blake) [wikipedia]
  45. Joyce, James Augustine Aloysius [wikipedia]
  46. Joyce, Lucia [wikipedia]
  47. Knights Templar [wikipedia]
  48. Lisowiec, Lucy [co.uk]
  49. McGeary, Doug
  50. Mad Marie
  51. Malone, Mick
  52. Tommy Mangle-the-Cat
  53. Mary Jane
  54. The Nene Hag
  55. Newton, Sir Isaac [wikipedia]
  56. Newton, John [wikipedia]
  57. Nolan, Kenny (“Fat Kenny”)
  58. Perrit, Benedict
  59. Perrit, Jem
  60. The Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan) [wikipedia]
  61. Popnecker, Herbie [wikipedia]
  62. Portinoth di Norhan
  63. Pratt, Newton
  64. Reagan, Phyllis (née Painter)
  65. Reagan, Ronald Wilson [wikipedia]
  66. Reagan, William (Bill, Bert)
  67. Salamanders [wikipedia]
  68. Spencer, Diana (Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances; née Spencer) (“Lady Di”) [wikipedia]
  69. Springfield, Dusty (Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien) [wikipedia]
  70. Stephen, James Kenneth (J.K.) [wikipedia]
  71. Stiles, Marla Roberta (“Kaph”)
  72. Stonhouse, John (should be Sir James) [wikipedia]
  73. Swan, Clara and Joe
  74. Thatcher, Margaret Hilda (Baroness Thatcher, née Roberts) [wikipedia]
  75. Theron and Aspasio (Hervey) [wikipedia]
  76. The Third Borough
  77. Thompson, Roman
  78. Tripp, Ted
  79. Ulysses (Joyce) [wikipedia]
  80. Vernall, Audrey
  81. Vernall, John Ernest (“Ginger”)
  82. Vernall, John (“Snowy”)
  83. Vernall, Johnny and Celia
  84. Vernall, Louisa
  85. Vernall, Thursa
  86. Vernall’s Inquest
  87. Warner, Derek James
  88. Warren, Alma
  89. Warren, Cathy
  90. Warren, Celia
  91. Warren, Clara
  92. Warren, Doreen (née Swan)
  93. Warren, Jack (“Handsome John”)
  94. Warren, Jack and Joseph
  95. Warren, May Minnie (née Vernall)
  96. Warren, May
  97. Warren, Michael (“Mick”)
  98. Warren, Thomas (“Tommy”) Ernest
  99. Whitney, Ogden [wikipedia]
  100. Wycliffe, John [wikipedia]

Ethnobotany of the Balti Community, Pakistan

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Ethnobotany of the Balti community, Tormik valley, Karakorum range, Baltistan, Pakistan

Abbas Z, Khan SM, Abbasi AM, et al
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Sep 9;12(1):38
PubMed Central: PMC5018187

Investigators at Hazara University, Quaid-i-Azam University, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, South China University of Technology, University of Gastronomic Sciences, and University of Swat conducted a study “to document the ethnobotanical knowledge of the local peoples in the Tormik Valley, especially in the medical and food domains.”

The Tormik Valley is home to the Balti ethnic group:

“Overall in the Baltistan region (province), Mongol, Mon, Hor, Brokpa and Kashmiris are the prominent ethnic groups with the local languages being Balti and Shina (Broq-skat); however, the studied valley hosts a single ethnic group: the Balti. This ethnic group is comprised of thirty-one lineage groups known as qoum and speaks Balti as their local language. The population of the valley is approximately 5,000 inhabitants comprising 706 households. The people of this region migrated to the study area from other parts of Baltistan, as well as other regions, before the birth of the founder of Buddhism, Guatama Budha (563 BC).”

The team gathered ethnobotanical data using semi-structured interviews and group conversation with 69 participants during field trips in 14 different villages, and documented 63 plant species with detailed folk uses, including 43% used to treat various diseases, 21% consumed as wild fruits and vegetables, and 53% with multipurpose applications.

This is the first in-depth ethnomedicinal survey of the Tormik valley:

“In mountainous ecosystems such as the Karakorum range, often inadequate nutrition remains a major problem resulting in various diseases. The local inhabitants in these areas have developed traditional methods of curing such common health problems, which in turn can provide important data for devising public health policies. The Karakorum mountain range, situated at the junction of western and central Asiatic regions of Tethyan flora, is one of the most diverse habitats in the world. The Baltistan province of Pakistan is home to more than a dozen geographically isolated and botanically unexplored valleys in the Karakorum Range. Although a number of previous ethnobotanical investigations have been conducted in surrounding areas, many of these studies did not use quantitative methods. Moreover, Tormik Valley repeatedly went unnoticed, perhaps due to its high altitude, harsh and hostile climate, inaccessibility and prevailing poverty. A large proportion of its inhabitants depend on herbal remedies. They are known as the trustees of cultural knowledge whether related to plants, animals, fungi, lichens, or stones.”

Hippophae rhamnoides
Hippophae rhamnoides [Source: Wikimedia Commons, Carl Axel Magnus Lindman, «Bilder ur Nordens Flora» Stockholm]
Twenty-six medicinal plant species were used to treat human ailments, including gastrointestinal diseases, dermatitis, jaundice, hepatitis, cancer, pneumonia, tonic, asthma, urinary disorders, joint pain, and eye pain. Thymus linearis, Hippophae rhamnoides, and Convolvulus arvensis were the most used medicinal plant species.

The authors note several implications for public health and environmental policies:

“…[I]t is clear that stomach related health problems (ulcers, constipation, GIT infections, jaundice), and skin diseases (dermatitis) are the most prevalent health problems in the area. Stomach disorders are likely due to malnutrition and unhygienic food utilization. Skin problems can be attributed to the high altitude of the study area, where radiation from the sun tends to be more intense and potentially mutagenic. People traditionally treat such diseases with food-medicines, which in many cases are quite effective. Hence, the present findings provide very important insights for public-health officials, to formulate health policies taking into account the common health issues and Traditional Medicine practiced by the local people as part of their primary healthcare.
“…The present study revealed that the valleys in the Karakorum Mountains in Northern Pakistan support a notable Traditional Knowledge on the local plants. Wild food plants have represented the milestone of the traditional food systems and could still represent a pillar of the local food sovereignty, while medicinal plants play a vital role, which need to be reconsidered and carefully re-evaluated by ethnopharmacologists and public health actors. The collected data may be also of interest to initiatives aimed at fostering sustainable rural development in an area that faces serious economic problems, widespread illiteracy, and isolation. The findings of this paper advocate the need for comprehensive trans-disciplinary researches aimed to ensure the dynamic conservation of invaluable local knowledge systems, as well as plant diversity in Pakistani mountain regions.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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.




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Wild Edible Plants of Burji District, Ethiopia

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Ethnobotanical study of wild edible plants in Burji District, Segan Area Zone of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Ethiopia

Ashagre M, Asfaw Z, Kelbessa E
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Aug 2;12(1):32
PubMed Central: PMC4971624

Investigators at Bule Hora University and Addis Ababa University conducted an ethnobotanical study of wild edible plants in the Burji woreda of southeastern Ethiopia.

Ficus sur
Ficus sur (Photo: JMK, Wikimedia Commons)

Using guided field walks, semi-structured interviews, and direct field observations, the team documented 46 wild plant species used as food. Two species (Arisaema schimperianum and Amorphophallus gomboczianus) were used to supplement the regular food supply and the remainder were used during food shortages, including seven species consumed during famine (Dovyalis abyssinica, Ehretia cymosa, Euclea divinorum, Ficus sur, Lannea schimperi, Olea europaea, and Rumex abyssinicus).

Noting that wild edible plants are under threat in the district due to anthropogenic pressures and disturbed climatic conditions, the authors make a number of recommendations for collaborative action:

“Ethnobotanical studies are important to promote the conservation and management of the vegetation of a certain area. The loss of indigenous knowledge on wild edible plants may occur if the resources disappear from the landscape. Being a basic source of information about the types of wild edible plants found in the study area and their use, this study would help in maintaining the ecological balance of the area and serve as a wakeup call for other researchers, including ethnobotanists and ecologists, to proceed to more of such studies. It enriches the herbarium and serves as permanent herbarium records and specimens for determination and quick botanical reference in future. In addition to these:

  • Some plants, for example, Ariseama schimperianum could be a very good food source at any time; hence should be given due attention either in maintaining it or improving it through domestication for more intensive usage.
  • Proper consideration should be given in the conservation and keeping of both wild edible plants and associated indigenous knowledge.
  • Expansion of farm lands through clearing forests and woodlands should be stopped by inducing intensive agricultural activities than extensive one through fulfilling different inputs.
  • The local people need awareness raising interventions about the sustainable use of natural resources.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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.




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The Glocal Nature of Waldensian Ethnobotany

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Isolated, but transnational: the glocal nature of Waldensian ethnobotany, Western Alps, NW Italy

Bellia G, Pieroni A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 May 7;11:37
PubMed Central: PMC4495842

A Waldensian Mountain Cottage
A Waldensian Mountain Cottage (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Keystone View Company Studios, 1881 [Public Domain])
Investigators at the University of Gastronomic Sciences conducted an ethnobotanical field study of traditional uses of wild plants for food and medicinal/veterinary purposes among Waldensian communities in the Western Alps of Italy.

Working with forty-seven elderly informants (typically small-scale farmers and shepherds), the team documented the uses of 85 wild and semi-domesticated food folk taxa, 96 medicinal folk taxa, and 45 veterinary folk taxa. Commonly used medicinal plants included Arnica montana, Artemisia absinthium, Abies alba, and Chelidonium majus.

Arnica montana
Arnica montana (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1896 [Public Domain])
The authors conclude that local plants play an important role in food security and the management of human and animal health in these communities, and may constitute a key resource for sustainable development in the area:

“A marked persistence of local knowledge regarding these plants among Waldensians confirms the importance of studying enclaves as well as cultural and linguistic “isles” in ethnobotany, which may represent both crucial reservoirs of folk knowledge and bio-cultural refugia.

On the other hand, the findings of this study indicate that a proper conservation of the bio-cultural heritage, such as the ethnobotanical one, requires strategies, which carefully consider natural landscapes and resources as well as cultural and religious customs, since plant folk knowledge systems are the result of a continuous interplay between these two domains over centuries.

Finally, these neglected local plant resources may represent a key issue for fostering a sustainable development in an area of the Alps, which has been largely untouched by mass tourism and is looking with particular interest at eco-touristic trajectories.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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.




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Medicinal Plants of Eastern Madagascar

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Medicinal plants used to treat the most frequent diseases encountered in Ambalabe rural community, Eastern Madagascar

Rakotoarivelo NH, Rakotoarivony F, Ramarosandratana AV et al.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Sep 15;11:68
PubMed Central: PMC4570514

Investigators from the Missouri Botanical Garden, University of Antananarivo, and Washington University in St. Louis inventoried medicinal plants used to treat diseases frequently occurring among residents of Ambalabe in eastern Madagascar.

Working with residents of Vatomandry District (which includes the rural community of Ambalabe and Vohibe Forest [a protected area established in 2008]), the team identified diarrhea, malaria, stomach-ache, cough, bilharzia (schistosomiasis), and dysentery as the most frequently occurring diseases and 83 medicinal plant species used to treat those diseases.

Litchi chinensis
Litchi chinensis [Photo: B.navez, WikiMedia Commons]
Plant species commonly used to treat the diseases included Mollugo nudicaulis, Litchi chinensis, Kalanchoe prolifera, and Paederia thouarsiana. Less than half of the medicinal plants were collected in Vohibe Forest, the rest were cultivated or collected around the villages, in house yards, and in crop fields.

In their conclusion, the authors note that while the local population retains important knowledge about medicinal plants, many of those species might be threatened:

“[T]his paper provides new information on medicinal plants used by the local population in Ambalabe community to fight against frequent diseases. Some species seemed new to sciences or sometimes have new uses never recorded. Further pharmacological studies will be needed to better understand the importance of traditional medicine. Besides, because 83 species were used to treat six most frequent diseases, their conservation should be considered as important to ensure sustainable future use, especially due to the fact that most of them were collected in the surroundings of the villages and in non-protected areas. Sustainable management techniques should be considered, especially for Malagasy endangered species.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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 Food Plants and Fungi Used in the Tibetan community of Zhagana

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Wild food plants and fungi used in the mycophilous Tibetan community of Zhagana (Tewo County, Gansu, China)

Kang J, Kang Y, Ji X, et al
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jun 1;12(1):21
PubMed Central: PMC4890536

Investigators from Northwest A&F University, Yangling Vocational & Technical College, Bailongjiang Forestry Administration Bureau, University of Gdansk, Polish Academy of Sciences, Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l’Asie orientale, University of Glasgow, and University of Rzeszów conducted field research to investigate knowledge and use of wild food plants and fungi in a highland valley in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Region on the north-eastern edges of the Tibetan Plateau.

Pteridium aquilinum
Pteridium aquilinum (Photo: Rasbak, Wikimedia Commons)

The team conducted field research in four neighboring villages in a mountain valley of Diebu (Tewo) county, interviewing villagers singly and in groups (altogether 63 informants) and collecting voucher specimens. DNA barcoding was used to identify fungi. They recorded the use of 54 species of vascular plants and 22 mushroom taxa. The most frequently mentioned wild foods included wild vegetables (Pteridium aquilinum, Notopterygium incisum, Allium chrysanthum, Allium cyaneum, Chenopodium album); fungi (Lactarius deliciosus, Ramaria spp.); fleshy fruits (Fragaria orientalis, Ribes alpestre); and two species used as staple foods (Persicaria vivipara and Potentilla anserina).

The authors note impacts of modernity and tourism in their discussion of the traditional uses of the plants:

“Most wild vegetables and mushrooms are usually boiled, sprinkled with hot oil and served as side-dishes. Wild fleshy fruits are collected mainly by children and eaten raw. Some green parts of plants are eaten as raw snacks: plants with a sour taste (Rumex leaves, Rheum peeled stalks), solidified spruce sap and nectar sucked out of flowers.

“In times of famine or grain scarcity Persicaria vivipara fruits were mixed with barley and used to make flour. This was practiced even up until the 1980s. Other wild staples are the small tubers of Potentilla anserina. They are still gathered now, but are treated only as ceremonial foods, being served during New Year celebrations, funerals and other ceremonial occasions. Their rarer use stems from a very tedious gathering procedure. The tubers are dug out by women in late autumn or early spring. One woman can gather 0.5–1 kg of tubers per day. In the past they also constituted emergency food. Several informants observed changes in the frequency with which wild foods are collected: adults collect and eat less wild vegetables and children snack less on wild fruits. Most people usually use only a few wild vegetables, such as Allium spp., Pteridium and Notopterygium. Some people have stopped eating Chenopodium and Urtica. Due to the increasing involvement of tourism in the valley in the last 5 years, people do not have time to gather fungi in summer, at the peak of the tourist season.

“Practically all families dry wild vegetables for later use, however they do not lacto-ferment them. People usually dry bracken (Pteridium) fronds, Nothopterigium leaves and wild garlic (Allium) flower heads. They also dry a few species of mushrooms, mainly morels (Morchella conica) and milk velvet caps (Lactarius deliciosus var. deterrimus). Morels are an important article of commerce, as is the medicinal Cordyceps sinensis mushroom, which was regarded by our informants as medicinal and not an edible mushroom. Some of our informants stored a few large sacks of morels for sale.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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.

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When Two Worlds Collide: The Battle of Bagua

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When Two Worlds Collide
Directed By Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel
2016, Peru
Spanish with English subtitles
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Walter Reade Theatre, NYC, 16 June 2016
[Film Website]

In December 2007, President Alan Garcia of Peru signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. The following June, Garcia’s administration pushed a number of legislative decrees through the Peruvian Congress, including a new Forest and Wildlife Law (DL 1090) and another law, DL 1064, which made it possible to convert state forest lands into private agricultural lands through administrative re-classification. These laws essentially opened Peru’s Amazonian rainforests for the wholesale extraction of natural resources (oil, gas, lumber, etc.) by foreign (primarily U.S.) corporations. The government, however, did not consult with the indigenous people who lived on the 45 million hectares affected by the legislation, in violation of the Peruvian constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), to which Peru was a signatory.

Indigenous organizations led by La Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP) responded with a series of strikes, protests, and road blockades through June 2009, when Garcia’s administration ordered the national police to forcibly remove protesters in the Amazonas province of Bagua. A small, heavily armed troop of officers fired on nearly 5,000 protesters and the ensuing battle left 33 dead (10 protesters and 23 policemen, with another officer missing and presumed dead).

The government revoked DL 1090 and 1064, AIDESEP lifted the strike, and Peru’s first prior consultation process began, which the government and some NGOs declared a success while AIDESEP and others maintained was plagued by “irregularities, lies, manipulation attempts, and a lack of a consensus in the end.” More than 100 protesters were charged with crimes including murder and sedition, notably among them Alberto Pizango, then chairman of AIDESEP. [1]

Filmmakers Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel open When Two Worlds Collide following Pizango as he hunts and fishes on his ancestral lands, awaiting the outcome of his trial. They expand to document firsthand accounts of indigenous people throughout Amazonas, who reveal how their water, land, and wildlife have been contaminated by extractive industries and how they hope to conserve what remains in a country where they are vastly outnumbered and a world where international investment and trade laws overwhelmingly support corporate rights over all others (environmental, indigenous, human). Contemporary news footage shows President Garcia and his cabinet as they propagandize for extraction and belittle the indigenous protest movement as jungle savagery run amok. Raw video captured by handheld cameras on the scene by local journalists, protesters, and police show the escalation from confrontation to lethal violence, and resulting corpses and funerals.

When Two Worlds Collide effectively integrates storytelling, investigation, and advocacy in a remarkably measured and balanced approach to a potentially explosive subject. While focusing on Pizango and the protesters, the filmmakers open the narrative to include the father of the policeman whose body was never found, who seeks news of his son in Amazonas, and the family of Captain Miguel Montenegro, killed during the conflict after attempting to keep the confrontation peaceful.

When Two Worlds Collide won a World Cinema Documentary special jury prize for Best Debut Feature at Sundance, and will open in NYC at Film Forum on August 17, 2016. The film is scheduled for release in Peru in August-September.

1. Historical summary based on “Box II: Peru’s New Forestry and Wildlife Law” (Environmental Investigation Agency, 2016).