Ethnobotanical Heritage of the Shuar People


Ethnobotanical Research at the Kutukú Scientific Station, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador

Ballesteros JL, Bracco F, Cerna M, Vita Finzi P, Vidari G
Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:9105746
PubMed Central: PMC5198176

Researchers from Universidad Politécnica Salesiana and the University of Pavia conducted an ethnobotanical study on the uses of medicinal plants by indigenous people near the Kutukú Scientific Station, which is located on the Kutukú mountain range in the Morona-Santiago province of southeast Ecuador.

About seven indigenous communities live in the study area, all of them members of the Shuar ethnic group:

“The ethnobotanical study performed in this work gave us a real panorama about the natural remedies used by the inhabitants in the territory of the Kutukú Scientific Station of the Morona canton of the province of Morona-Santiago, south of Ecuador. This research was realized with “Shuar” community, which is very different from the “Achuar” community cited in the article by Giovannini, even the geographical location and the altitude are different.”

Acmella ciliata
Acmella ciliata [Photo: Wikimedia Commons,]
With guidance from the Shuar, the team identified recorded therapeutic uses of 131 medicinal plants, including Acmella ciliata, Byrsonima arthropoda, Citharexylum poeppigii, Croton lechleri, Ilex guayusa, Siparuna harlingii, Verbena litoralis, and Virola pavonis. Most of the plants are native to the region. Therapeutic uses included aids for wound healing, “mal aire,” diarrhea, nourishment, kidney and bladder affections, fever, and rheumatism.

The authors note the urgency to preserve the cultural patrimony of the Shuar through sustainable research and development:

“In this work we analyzed the ethnobotanical patrimony of Kutukú Scientific Station, located on the Kutukú mountain range in the Morona-Santiago province, Ecuador. By doing that, we intended to safeguard the popular knowledge concerning plants and to produce a database of plant uses and advantages. This data could be used by the citizens themselves and could be the base for future actions in programs of scientific investigations, environmental education, social awareness, and natural resources exploitation, as well as the start point of touristic attraction based on the sustainable development of the territory.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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