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.
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