Tag Archives: ethnobotany

Folk Medicines Used to Treat Malaria in Calabria

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Tagarelli G, Tagarelli A, Piro A.
Folk medicine used to heal malaria in Calabria (southern Italy).
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Sep 18;6:27.
PubMed PMID: 20849654; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2949813. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Researchers at Istituto di Scienze Neurologiche-CNR identified folk medical cures that were used by the Calabrian people for the treatment of malaria, as evidenced in writings produced between the 19th and 20th centuries.

The authors identify 53 plants used by Calabrian people to treat malaria, and note that some of these plants are still currently used in Calabrian folk medicine to treat various diseases.

From the Discussion:

“The methodology based on the analysis of historical sources regarding Calabrian folk medicine remedies for the prophylaxis and treatment of malaria, if not compared with similar studies, can be considered a case study where the ordinary methodologies of ethno-medical-biological research are combined with the methodologies pertaining to historical-anthropological sciences. In addition, this is part of a debate regarding the association between ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology and other disciplines, to improve our understanding of the human usage of plants.”

Free full text is available via 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.

Ethnopharmacological Knowledge among Migrants in Diadema, São Paulo

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Garcia D, Domingues MV, Rodrigues E.
Ethnopharmacological survey among migrants living in the Southeast Atlantic Forest of Diadema, São Paulo, Brazil.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Oct 29;6:29.
PubMed PMID: 21034478; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2987905. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Noting that an understanding of how people of diverse cultural backgrounds have traditionally used plants and animals as medicinal substances during displacements is one of the most important objectives of ethnopharmacological studies, biologists at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo interviewed five migrants who described knowledge about 12 animals and 85 plants used medicinally in their places of origin. The five interviewees migrated from northeast and southeast Brazil and established themselves in Diadema in the 1940s.

From the Background:

“Cultural mixing mediated by the migration of people around the world has generated increasing interest in recent years within the field of ethnopharmacology. Medicinal plants have been used by human societies throughout history, also across geographical barriers. The continuous use of certain plants and animals for medicinal purposes over time reflects their potential therapeutic value. Such substances become even more promising when they are persistently used by migrating human groups despite the considerable distances travelled and the consequent exposure to different cultures and vegetal resources.”

Seven plants [Impatiens hawkeri W. Bull., [Artemisia camphorata Vill.], Equisetum arvensis L. [sic – Equisetum arvense?], Senna pendula (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby, Zea mays L., Fevillea passiflora Vell. and Croton fuscescens Spreng)] and two animals (Atta sexdens and Periplaneta americana) showed maintenance of use among migrants during their displacement in Brazilian territory and have not yet been studied by pharmacologists.

The authors acknowledge that their work raises significant issues related to property rights, as the dynamic use of natural resources presents particularly varied influences: “The interviewed migrants had passed through several Brazilian cities and were exposed to distinct vegetation and cultures. In this migration, they have passed on and incorporated knowledge in an intensive exchange where formulas and uses are mixed and re-invented as a result of contact between cultures.”

Free full text available via 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.

Survey of Plants Used in Northern Peru for Reproductive Problems and Female Health

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Bussmann RW, Glenn A.
Medicinal plants used in Northern Peru for reproductive problems and female health.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Nov 1;6:30.
PubMed PMID: 21040536; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2984435. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Botanists from the William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden documented a total of 105 plant species identified as herbal remedies for reproductive problems in Northern Peru. Only a third of the plants have previously been studied for their medicinal properties.

From the Background:

“Northern Peru is believed to be the center of the Central Andean Health Axis, and traditional medicinal practices in this region remain an important component of everyday life. [Traditional Medicine] is also gaining acceptance by national governments and health providers. Peru’s National Program in Complementary Medicine and the Pan American Health Organization recently compared Complementary Medicine to allopathic medicine in clinics and hospitals operating within the Peruvian Social Security System. The results showed that the cost of using Traditional Medicine was less than the cost of Western therapy. In addition, for each of the criteria evaluated – clinical efficacy, user satisfaction, and future risk reduction – Traditional Medicine’s efficacy was higher than that of conventional treatments, including fewer side effects, higher perception of efficacy by both the patients and the clinics, and a 53-63% higher cost efficiency of Traditional Medicine over that of conventional treatments for the selected conditions. According to [the World Health Organization], the sustainable cultivation and harvesting of medicinal species is one of the most important challenges for the next few years.”

The authors provide an overview on medicinal plant species employed in Northern Peru in traditional remedies for reproductive problems and female health, comparing this use to the western scientific evidence regarding their efficacy. Most of the species identified were Asteraceae (aster, daisy, or sunflower family, 9.52%), followed by Lamiaceae (mint family) and Fabaceae (legume family) (8.57% and 6.67%).

A comprehensive table lists species used in Northern Peru for reproductive problems.

Free full text is available via 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.

Herbal Mixtures in Traditional Medicine in Northern Peru

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Bussmann RW, Glenn A, Meyer K, et al. Herbal mixtures in traditional medicine in Northern Peru. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Mar 14;6:10.
PubMed PMID: 20226092; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2848642.
[Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Noting with the World Health Organization that “the sustainable cultivation and harvesting of medicinal species is one of the most important challenges for the next few years,” researchers from Missouri Botanical Garden undertook a detailed survey of herbal mixtures employed by traditional practitioners (curanderos) in Northern Peru and the specific applications they are used for, in order to provide a baseline for more in-depth studies on efficacy and safety, as well as possible applications.

Researchers collected plants in the field, in markets, and at the homes of curanderos. In accordance with Peru’s rights under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the identification of the plant material was conducted entirely in Peru and no plant material was exported.

The investigation yielded a total of 974 herbal preparations used to treat 164 different afflictions, which were classified under the curandero’s terminology. Nearly a third of the afflictions treated with traditional herbal mixtures were psychosomatic, followed by respiratory illnesses, female issues, kidney problems and heart problems.

Nearly 65% of the medicinal plants used in the region were applied in mixtures, leading the researchers to speculate this might help explain why traditional one-plant, one single-compound based drug
discovery efforts have yielded very little results, and why so many plant species that have been documented for a certain use are found inefficient or toxic in clinical trials.

From the Conclusions:

“Peruvian curanderos appear to employ very specific guidelines in the preparation of these cocktails, and seem to have a clear understanding of disease concepts when they diagnose a patient, which in turn leads them to often apply specific mixtures for specific conditions. There seems to be a widespread exchange of knowledge about mixtures for treatment of bodily diseases, while mixtures for spiritual, nervous system and psychosomatic disorders appear to be more closely guarded by the individual healers.”

The full text is available via 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.

Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer

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Qi F, Li A, Inagaki Y, et al. Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer. Biosci Trends. 2010 Dec;4(6):297-307. Review. PubMed PMID: 21248427.

A benchmark review providing evidence for trials of Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant cancer treatment during chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The authors hypothesize that Chinese herbal medicines (e.g. Astragalus, Turmeric, Ginseng, TJ-41, PHY906, Huachansu injection, and Kanglaite injection) “have advantages in terms of suppressing tumor progression, increasing the sensitivity of chemo- and radiotherapeutics, improving an organism’s immune system function, and lessening the damage caused by chemo- and radio-therapeutics.” They recommend randomized, controlled clinical trials involving cancer patients.

Free full text via PubMed.

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.

The use of medicinal plants in Mustang district, Nepal

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Bhattarai S, Chaudhary RP, Quave CL, Taylor RS.
The use of medicinal plants in the trans-Himalayan arid zone of Mustang district, Nepal.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Apr 6;6:14.
PubMed PMID: 20370901

Investigators at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology conducted field research in the Mustang district of north-central Nepal from 2005 to 2007 to document the use of medicinal plants in traditional botanical medicine.

Interviewing residents of 27 communities, the investigators recorded traditional uses of 121 medicinal plant species, mostly herbs, but also including shrubs, trees, and climbers. Plant-based medicine is used extensively in the region, within a number of medical systems including Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, Unani (a tradition of Graeco-Arabic medicine), and Tibetan Amchi medicine.

Recent loss of biodiversity in Mustang – a fragile, mountainous ecosystem – prompted this ethnobotanical project to document the use of medicinal plants and indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge. The investigators interviewed Amchi healers, medicinal plant traders, farmers, hotel and shop owners and managers, traders, homemakers, and village elders.

The study found that medicinal plants play a pivotal role in primary healthcare in Mustang, that traditional Amchi medical practitioners maintain deep knowledge about their use, and that, “while over-harvesting of some important medicinal plants has increased, many Amchi are working towards both biological conservation of the medicinal plants through sustainable harvesting and protection of wild species and conservation of their cultural heritage.”

To maintain biodiversity and ethnobotanical knowledge, the authors recommend collaborative research projects between the local people and national and international partners with relevant expertise.

Indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants used by Saperas community of Khetawas, Jhajjar District, Haryana, India

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Panghal M, Arya V, Yadav S, et al. Indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants used by Saperas community of Khetawas, Jhajjar District, Haryana, India. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Jan 28;6:4. PubMed PMID: 20109179 PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2826346 [full text]

Researchers at Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, undertook oral interviews with traditional herbal medicine practitioners of the Nath community in Jhajjar District, Haryana, India.

From the background:

“The indigenous community of snake charmers belongs to the ‘Nath’ community in India have played important role of healers in treating snake bite victims. Snake charmers also sell herbal remedies for common ailments. In the present paper an attempt has been made to document on ethno botanical survey and traditional medicines used by snake charmers of village Khetawas located in district Jhajjar of Haryana, India as the little work has been made in the past to document the knowledge from this community.”

The investigation found the people of the snake charmer community used 57 medicinal plants for the treatment of various diseases.

From the conclusion:

“This community carries a vast knowledge of medicinal plants but as snake charming is banned in India as part of efforts to protect India’s steadily depleting wildlife, this knowledge is also rapidly disappearing in this community. Such type of ethno botanical studies will help in systematic documentation of ethno botanical knowledge and availing to the scientific world plant therapies used as antivenin by the Saperas community.

Read the full article.

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.

Ethnomedical survey of plants used by the Orang Asli in Kampung Bawong, Perak, West Malaysia

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Samuel AJ, Kalusalingam A, Chellappan DK, et al. Ethnomedical survey of plants used by the Orang Asli in Kampung Bawong, Perak, West Malaysia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Feb 7;6:5. PubMed PMID: 20137098; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2843656. [full text]

Investigators at Masterskill University College of Health Sciences in Malaysia carried out a qualitative ethnomedical survey among a local Orang Asli tribe to gather information on the use of medicinal plants in the region of Kampung Bawong, Perak of West Malaysia to evaluate the potential medicinal uses of local plants used in curing different diseases and illnesses.

Their survey revealed 62 medicinal plant species that grow in the wild naturally and have medicinal properties that are crucial in traditional medicine of the Orang Asli.

From the conclusions:

“…The local government and village authorities need to act fast to conserve the ethnomedical knowledge of Orang Asli in the village Kampung Bawong, and the medicinal plants require preservation in addition to the ethnobotanical and ethnomedical knowledge recording. The preservation of these herbs along with the traditional knowledge of how to use them is an indispensable obligation for sustaining traditional medicine as a medicinal and cultural resource. Thus a future extensive research of these plants in this locality is recommended to identify and assess their ethnomedical claim.”

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 in Babungo, Northwest Region, Cameroon

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Simbo DJ. An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants in Babungo, Northwest Region, Cameroon. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Feb 15;6:8. PubMed PMID: 20156356; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2843657. [free full text]

An investigator at University of Antwerp Groenenborgerlaan reports on a survey that identified and recorded 107 plants species from 54 plant families, 98 genera used for treating diseases in Babungo.

From the conclusion:

“The survey shows that a large number of medicinal plants are used in Babungo for treating different ailments. The knowledge of the use of plants to treat diseases has been with the people for generations but has not been recorded. This knowledge remains mostly with the traditional medical practitioners who are mostly old people. Most of the medicinal plants are sourced from the wild. In addition to their medicinal uses, some of these plants have other uses. The local population should be educated on sustainable methods of harvesting plants to treat diseases today without compromising their availability for future use. The youth should also be encouraged to learn
the traditional medicinal knowledge to preserve it from being lost with the older generation.”

Important note: 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.

Hot chilis to cool cancer

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Oyagbemi AA, Saba AB, Azeez OI. Capsaicin: a novel chemopreventive molecule and its underlying molecular mechanisms of action. Indian J Cancer. 2010 Jan-Mar;47(1):53-8 [open access]

Researchers at the University of Ibadan undertook a review of the literature on the plant genus Capsicum (Solanaceae), a principal ingredient of hot red and chili peppers, as a cancer-suppressing agent.

From the conclusion:

“The use of phytochemicals present in fruits and vegetable has gained worldwide acceptance as a novel source of chemopreventive agents against cancer cells. These non-nutrient phytochemicals either block or reverse multistage carcinogenesis. Capsaicin, a pungent ingredient present in chili pepper has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative and anti-cancer potentials. Capsaicin has chemopreventive effect against a wide of chronic inflammatory diseases, including cancer. Other potential benefits of capsaicin should be explored with the aim of brightening our understanding of the molecular mechanism associated with its anti-cancer activities.”

Chilis!

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.