Tag Archives: ethnobotany

Ethnobotanical Survey in Canhane Village, Mozambique

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Ribeiro A, Romeiras MM, Tavares J, Faria MT. Ethnobotanical survey in Canhane village, district of Massingir, Mozambique: medicinal plants and traditional knowledge. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Dec 3;6:33. PubMed PMID: 21129187; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3016261. [Free full text.]

Investigators from the Tropical Research Institute, Lisbon, Portugal, gathered information on 53 plant species used to treat 50 different human health problems by people of Canhane village, district of Massingir, in Gaza, Mozambique. Most of the village inhabitants belong to the Valoyi tribe of the Changana ethnic group.

More than half of the reported species were used for stomach and intestine related disturbances, notably diarrhea and dysentery. Four species with therapeutic applications are reported here for the first time: Blepharis diversispina, Guibourtia conjugata, Hermannia micropetala, Loeseneriella crenata.

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.

Traditional Herbal Medicine in Far West Nepal: A Pharmacological Appraisal

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Kunwar RM, Shrestha KP, Bussmann RW. Traditional herbal medicine in far-west Nepal: a pharmacological appraisal. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Dec 13;6:35. PubMed PMID: 21144003; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3012020. [Free full text]

Investigators from the Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal evaluated ethnomedicinal plants in far-west Nepal and their uses following a literature review, comparison, field observations, and analysis. The authors cataloged major uses of the medicinal plants, their chemical constituents, and latest common pharmacological findings.

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.

Antibacterial Activity of Medicinal Plants Used by Haudenosaunee Peoples, New York State

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Frey FM, Meyers R. Antibacterial activity of traditional medicinal plants used by Haudenosaunee peoples of New York State. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Nov 6;10:64.
[PubMed PMID: 21054887; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2989932.]

Observing that the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance, as well as the evolution of new strains of disease-causing agents, is of great concern to the global health community, biologists from Colgate University explored the antibacterial properties of plants used in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) traditional medicine as a potential source of novel drugs.

The authors begin by noting that in Upstate New York, the Haudenosaunee peoples used approximately 450 plant species in traditional medicine. After identification and harvesting, they prepared aqueous extractions from 15 plant species and tested them against four bacterial species (Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium [Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Typhimurium], Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus [Lactococcus] lactis).

From the Conclusions:

“Growing antibiotic resistance among human pathogens and new data showing that antibiotic-resistant E. coli can protect antibiotic-sensitive S. typhimurium without gene transfer, emphasize the importance of finding new antibacterial molecules. Our data suggest that investigating traditional Haudenosaunee medicinal plants may yield promising new leads. The degree of concordance between traditional use and observed antibacterial properties suggest that there may be some truth to these remedies. In particular, our results suggest that A. millefolium, [Hieracium] pilosella, [Ipomoea] pandurata, and [Sanguinaria] canadensis warrant further study, as does the previously undocumented [Hesperis] matronalis, especially in the context of S. typhimurium. Elucidating the mode of action behind these observed antibacterial properties, as well as exploring other pharmacological activities is currently underway in our lab.”

Free full text is available via PubMed and 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.

Cytotoxic Activity of Thai Medicinal Plants Against Human Carcinoma Cells in vitro

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Mahavorasirikul W, Viyanant V, Chaijaroenkul W, et al. Cytotoxic activity of Thai medicinal plants against human cholangiocarcinoma, laryngeal and hepatocarcinoma cells in vitro. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Sep 28;10:55.
[PubMed PMID: 20920194; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2956707.]

Noting that cholangiocarcinoma is a serious public health problem in Thailand with increasing incidence and mortality rates, researchers from Thammasat University investigated cytotoxic activities of crude ethanol extracts of a total of 28 plants and 5 recipes used in Thai folklore medicine against human cholangiocarcinoma (CL-6), human laryngeal (Hep-2), and human hepatocarcinoma (HepG2) cell lines in vitro.

From the Conclusions:

“Results obtained from this study indicate that 6 out of a total of 28 plants and 5 recipes (Atractylodes lancea, Kaempferia galangal, Zingiber officinale, Piper chaba, Mesua ferrea, and Pra-Sa-Prao-Yhai recipe) used in Thai folklore medicine exhibited promising cytotoxic activity against CL-6 human cholangiocarcinoma cell line… Further investigation of all the six extracts for their cytotoxic activity against cholangiocarcinoma in hamster model is underway to fully assess the anticancer activity in vivo.”

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.

Plants Used to Manage HIV/AIDS Opportunistic Infections in Katima Mulilo, Namibia

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Chinsembu KC, Hedimbi M. An ethnobotanical survey of plants used to manage HIV/AIDS opportunistic infections in Katima Mulilo, Caprivi region, Namibia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Sep 11;6:25.
[PubMed PMID: 20831821; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2944155.]

Noting that Katima Mulilo has the highest burden of HIV/AIDS in Namibia, and that many HIV-infected persons in the region use ethnomedicines to manage AIDS-related opportunistic infections, biologists from the University of Namibia surveyed plant species used by traditional healers to treat AIDS-related opportunistic infections.

They identified 71 plant species from 28 families, mostly the Combretaceae (a family of tropical trees and shrubs, 14%), Anacardiaceae (cashew or sumac family, 8%), Mimosaceae (a family of spiny woody plants, 8%), and Ebanaceae (persimmon or ebony family, 7%), used to treat conditions such as herpes zoster, diarrhea, coughing, malaria, meningitis, and tuberculosis.

The authors note that harmonization of the use of ethnomedicines with HIV/AIDS policy “remains a sensitive and contentious issue… because traditional medicines can easily become a scapegoat for denial and inertia to roll-out ART [antiretroviral therapy] as was the case during President Thabo Mbeki’s South Africa [and that] because in many resource-poor settings in Sub-Saharan Africa, government-sponsored ART programmes discourage the use of traditional medicines, fearing that the efficacy of antiretroviral drugs may be inhibited by traditional medicines … that their interactions could lead to toxicity [or that] reliance on traditional medicines can also lead to a discontinuation of ART therapy.”

“Thus many African governments including Namibia still have contradictory attitudes towards traditional medicines for AIDS, discouraging it within ART programmes, and supporting it within their initiatives of public health and primary health care. Despite this contradictory scenario, indigenous plants and mushrooms have been embraced as potential reservoirs that may contain a large repertoire of novel anti-HIV active compounds.”

The article contains a comprehensive list of plants used to treat HIV/AIDS-related disease conditions, including scientific name, common name, local name, parts used, disease conditions treated, and mode of application. Issues of intellectual property and ecological sustainability are discussed.

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.

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.