Tag Archives: ethnomedicine

Knowledge of Medicinal Plants on the Island of Bougainville

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An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the Siwai and Buin districts of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Julie Waruruai, Beuluah Sipana, Michael Koch, Louis R. Barrows, Teatulohi K. Matainaho, Prem P Raia
J Ethnopharmacol
2011 Nov 18;138(2):564-77
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3245962
Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea
Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Electionworld)

As part of a program initiated by the University of Papua New Guinea to systematically document and preserve traditional knowledge of medicinal plant use, researchers at University of Papua New Guinea and University of Utah undertook an ethnobotanical survey in the Siwai and Buin Districts of the Island of Bougainville.

From the Introduction:

“Initially settled around 40,000 years ago, extended habitation in diverse environs has rendered most ethnic groups in [Papua New Guinea] rich in medicinal plant knowledge. The traditional use of medicinal plants constitutes an important and threatened information reservoir that has been empirically tested and adopted through millennia of trial and error, but that is threatened by on-going development and change of lifestyle. Prior to the current University of Papua New Guinea  Traditional Medicines Database Surveys, two of which are reported here, [Papua New Guinea] medicinal plant use and corresponding pharmacological assessment was not systematically studied. The documentation of medicinal plants in [Papua New Guinea] has been haphazard and the accrued knowledge not widely disseminated internationally. We estimate that historically some 800 [Papua New Guinea] plants have been described in the literature for treatment of various ailments, but this represents only a fraction of the total number of plants actually utilized.”

The authors report that in Papua New Guinea respiratory problems, malaria and other infections, physical injury, diarrhea and obstetrical and gynecological difficulties are extremely common and many plants are used to treat these health problems.

Alstonia scholaris
Alstonia scholaris (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Amar Chandra)

Of the medicinal plant species identified in the survey, 18 were found to used medicinally in the Siwai and Buin districts both, including six that are also harvested or cultivated for food: Barringtonia novae-hiberniae, Cocos nucifera, Ficus copiosa, Magnifera indica, Psidium guajava and Solanum torvum. Other plants used medicinally in both regions include Ageratum conyzoides, Alstonia scholaris, Angiopteris evecta, Ficus adenosperma, Hibiscus tiliaceus, Hornstedtia scottiana, Macaranga aleuritoides, Merremia peltata, Mikania micrantha, Mucuna novoguineensis, Premna serratifolia, and Pterocarpus indicus.

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.

Medicinal Plants of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

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Ecological status and traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary of Garhwal Himalaya, India

Jahangeer A Bhat, Munesh Kumar, Rainer W Bussmann
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Jan 2;9:1
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3560114
Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary entrance from Chopta
Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary entrance from Chopta (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Flikr user: Dirk Hartung)

Researchers at H.N.B. Garhwal University and Missouri Botanical Garden documented the traditional uses of medicinal plants, their ecological status and importance in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area of Garhwal Himalaya to serve as baseline information on medicinal plants and help strengthen the conservation of this important resource.

Podophyllum hexandrum
Podophyllum hexandrum (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Pekaje)

The authors report 152 medicinally important plant species in the area, of which 18 species fall into the rare, endangered (critically endangered) and vulnerable status categories: Aconitium hetrophyllum, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Podophyllum hexandrum, Rosa sericea, Roscoea alpina, Salvia hians, Saussurea auriculata, Sorbus aucuparia, Sorbus cuspidata, Synotis alatus, Bistorta amplexicaulis, Coriaria nepalensis, Hypericum choisianum, Morina longifolia, Jurinea dolomiaea, Swertia chirayita, Polygonatum verticillatum and Zanthoxylum armatum.

From the Conclusions:

“Considering the ecological importance and population status of important ethnomedicinal species, we recommend the preparation of micro-plans for each important medicinal species, including data on best harvesting practice and quantity to be harvested. Most of this data is unknown for most medicinal plants. Propagation of plants using tissue culture techniques and conventional methods to allow for their transplantation into natural habitats and niche areas of the species will be an important step towards their conservation. Additional ecological studies, including population assessments using standard ecological methods are needed to effectively plan the conservation and management for threatened, rare and endangered species. The development of agro-production techniques for certain species of Garhwal Himalaya can help to meet the requirement of raw material for commercial use and reduce the pressure on the existing populations in natural habitats.”

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.

Medicinal Plants of the Kavirajes

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A survey of medicinal plants used by Kavirajes of Chalna area, Khulna district, Bangladesh

Mohammed Rahmatullah, Dilara Ferdausi, Md Ariful Haque Mollik, Rownak Jahan, Majeedul H Chowdhury, Wahid Mozammel Haque
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med
2009 Dec 30;7(2):91-7
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3021158
Khulna District, Bangladesh
Khulna District, Bangladesh (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Armanaziz adapted by Himalayan Explorer)

Researchers at the University of Development Alternative (Bangladesh) and New York City College of Technology conducted an ethnomedicinal survey amongst the Kavirajes (traditional healers) of Chalna area, Khulna district, Bangladesh, which is known to contain a diversity of medicinal plants. Information on 50 plant species was obtained, including plants used to treat skin diseases, intestinal tract disorders, cancer/tumor, rheumatoid arthritis, wounds (including tiger and snake bites), jaundice, diabetes, leprosy, sexually transmitted diseases, impotence, helminthiasis and heart disorders.

Barleria lupulina
Barleria lupulina (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Biswarup Ganguly)

Prominent among those medicinal plants (ie, those used to treat four or more ailments) were Barleria lupulina, Hygrophila auriculata, Sansevieria trifasciata, Amaranthus spinosus, Spondias dulcis, Centella asiatica, Gnaphalium luteo-album, Tridax procumbens, Carica papaya, Brassica oleracea, Trichosanthes kirilowii, Excoecaria agallocha, Cassia fistula, Cassia occidentalis, Saraca indica, Sesbania grandiflora, Anisomeles malabarica, Clerodendrum inerme, Cuphea hyssopifolia, Psidium guajava, Cedrus deodara, Hygroryza aristata, Phragmites australis, Zea mays, Persicaria hydropiper, Richardia scabra, Murraya paniculata, Veronica officinalis and Boehmeria macrophylla.

From the discussion section:

Sundarbans
The Sundarbans (Source: Wikimedia Commons, SPOT Image)

“Our survey indicated that the plant species used for medicinal purposes in Chalna area differ from other areas of Bangladesh. However, the diseases treated by the Kavirajes of Chalna area were quite similar to diseases treated by Kavirajes in other regions of Bangladesh. One notable exception, as pointed out earlier, was the comparatively large number of plant species used to treat cancer. A number of the medicinal plant species are collected from the Sunderbans forest. Since depletion of this forest region is going on at an alarming rate, it is imperative that modern scientific studies be conducted as soon as possible on the medicinal plants of the area. Not only such scientific studies can lead to possible discoveries of novel pharmacologically active compounds, but also such discoveries can be an inducement for preservation of the forest region.”

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.

An Unexpected Finding about Immigrants’ Knowledge of Medicinal Plants

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Globalization and loss of plant knowledge: challenging the paradigm

Ina Vandebroek, Michael J. Balick
PLoS One
2012;7(5). Epub 2012 May 25
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3360753

To investigate the transnational dynamics of immigrants’ knowledge of medicinal plants  from their origin in the Dominican Republic to their new home in New York City, researchers from The New York Botanical Garden systematically queried participants on their knowledge of plants reported to treat 30 common health conditions.

Contrary to their initial hypothesis, and widely held belief among scholars, the authors found a significant and non-age-dependent increase in knowledge of medicinal plants among Dominicans living in New York City as compared to the Dominican Republic:

“The widely held paradigm is that plant knowledge declines with cultural change associated with modernization and globalization in many migrant and non-migrant communities world-wide. Our study demonstrated that cultural knowledge about medicinal plants in the context of a highly urbanized, transnational community in a globalized setting is kept alive and actively transformed by the geographic dynamics of that community. The increase in knowledge about food medicines in NYC was unexpected and is the first study to report a statistically measurable increase in this type of cultural knowledge associated with migration. We did not expect this to be the case in the NYC metropolis with its dramatically different ecological and social environment as compared to the DR, where people readily obtain medicinal plants free of charge from their backyards or surroundings. New Yorkers from Latino descent, however, operate a culturally-based healthcare system through botánicas that exists in parallel with the biomedical system.”

Among the health-policy implications of this finding is that ethnobotanists may have an important role to play in U.S. medical education.

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.

A Better Way to Evaluate Antimalarial Plants Used in African Traditional Medicine?

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An alternative paradigm for the role of antimalarial plants in Africa

Steven Maranz
ScientificWorldJournal
2012;2012:978913. Epub 2012 Apr 19
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3346345

Steven Maranz, a visiting scientist with the David H. Murdock Research Institute, proposes a shift from in vitro research into antimalarial plants used in African traditional medicine, and toward in vitro research. As stated in the abstract:

“Most investigations into the antimalarial activity of African plants are centered on finding an indigenous equivalent to artemisinin, the compound from which current frontline antimalarial drugs are synthesized. As a consequence, the standard practice in ethnopharmacological research is to use in vitro assays to identify compounds that inhibit parasites at nanomolar concentrations. This approach fails to take into consideration the high probability of acquisition of resistance to parasiticidal compounds since parasite populations are placed under direct selection for genetic that confers a survival advantage. Bearing in mind Africa’s long exposure to malaria and extensive ethnobotanical experimentation with both therapies and diet, it is more likely that compounds not readily overcome by Plasmodium parasites would have been retained in the pharmacopeia and cuisine. Such compounds are characterized by acting primarily on the host rather than directly targeting the parasite and thus cannot be adequately explored in vitro. If Africa’s long history with malaria has in fact produced effective plant therapies, their scientific elucidation will require a major emphasis on in vivo investigation.”

The author posits that a greater emphasis on in vivo testing would better capture the interaction between host, parasite and drug, and perhaps aid in the discovery of better long-term interventions.

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.

Herbal Medicine Use in Uganda

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Herbal medicine use in the districts of Nakapiripirit, Pallisa, Kanungu, and Mukono in Uganda

John RS Tabuti, Collins B Kukunda, Daniel Kaweesi, Ossy MJ Kasilo
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2012 Sep 3;8:35
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3484030
Uganda
Uganda (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook)

Researchers from Makerere University, Uganda National Commission for UNESCO and the World Health Organization conducted an ethnobotanical study to document indigenous knowledge relevant to herbal medicine in the rural districts of Mukono, Nakapiripirit, Kanungu and Pallisa in Uganda.

The participating communities were ethnically diverse:

“The people of Mukono belong to the Baganda tribe. The people of Nakapiripirit are Ngakarimojong by tribe, those of Kanungu are Bakiga and the ones of Pallisa belong to the tribes of the Ateso and the Bagwere. This implies that they have different [indigenous knowledge] and exploit useful plants in different ways. All these cultural groups subsist on crop agriculture as their main source of livelihood apart from the Ngakarimajong who are nomadic cattle keepers.”

Azadirachta indica
Azadirachta indica (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: J.M.Garg)

In interviews, respondents reported knowledge of herbal medicines to treat 78 ailments using herbal medicines. Common ailments in the four districts include malaria, cough, headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, flu, backache and eye disease. The team prioritized 44 plant species that were mentioned by three or more respondents.

Among the species highlighted is Azadirachta indica, which the authors note has shown antiplasmodial activity in vivo and in vitro in other studies.

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.

Medicinal Ethnobotany of Huacareta, Bolivia

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Medicinal ethnobotany in Huacareta (Chuquisaca, Bolivia)

Rodrigo Quiroga, Lidia Meneses & and Rainer W Bussmann
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2012 Aug 2;8:29
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3285519
Xanthium spinosum
Xanthium spinosum (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Xemenendura)

Researchers from Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Museo de Historia Natural Alcides D’Orbigny and Missouri Botanical Garden documented the types of diseases treated by medicinal plants in San Pablo de Huacareta (Chuquisaca, Bolivia) and their main applications. The team identified 258 traditional medicine uses, spanning a total of 13 diseases categories and including 91 native and exotic plant species and one unidentified plant.

The most important plant species identified through the survey included Xanthium spinosum, Coronopus didymus, Petiveria alliacaea, Piper sp., Hydrocotyle sp., Verbena berteroi, Tecoma stans, Urera baccifera, Chenopodium ambrosioides, Brugmansia sp., Xanthium spinosum, Rubus boliviensis, Acacia aroma, Plantago major, Equisetum giganteum, Pluchea sagittalis, Baccharis articulata and Ruta graveolens.

Gastrointestinal disorders were most the frequent disease category treated with the medicinal plants, followed by afflictions of the musculoskeletal system and dermatological disorders. The herbal remedies were mostly used in the form of teas and decoctions, and mainly consisting of native plant species, although exotic species have been introduced to the pharmacopoeia.

From the results:

“In informal conversations 67 out of 75 informants mentioned a preference for the use of medicinal plants instead of going to the hospital. This could mainly be linked to the distrust that people have in doctors. Another important aspect was the limited financial resources available for the purchase of pharmaceuticals. Often people consult doctors at the hospital, then turn to traditional healers for treatment with medicinal plants, because this cure has a lower cost.”

A table details the medicinal plants encountered, their medicinal uses, the parts used and method of preparation.

Read the complete article at 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.

Medical Ethnobotany of the Albanian Alps

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Medical ethnobotany of the Albanian Alps in Kosovo

Behxhet Mustafa, Avni Hajdari, Feriz Krasniqi, Esat Hoxha, Hatixhe Ademi, Cassandra L Quave & Andrea Pieroni
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2012 Jan 28;8:6
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3285519
Tamara Gorge, Albanian Alps
Tamara Gorge, Albanian Alps (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Sigismund von Dobschütz)

Researchers from the University of Prishtina, Kosovo Academy of Sciences and Arts, Emory University and University of Gastronomic Sciences conducted a medico-ethnobotanical survey in 36 villages on the Kosovar side of the Albanian Alps.

From the abstract:

Carduus nutans L.
Carduus nutans L. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, U.S. National Park Service, PCA Alien Plant Working Group)

“The uses of 98 plants species belonging to 39 families were recorded; the most quoted botanical families were Rosaceae, Asteraceae, and Lamiaceae. Mainly decoctions and infusions were quoted as folk medicinal preparations and the most common uses referred to gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, as well as illnesses of the uro-genital system. Among the most uncommon medicinal taxa quoted by the informants, Carduus nutans L., Echinops bannaticus Rochel ex Schrad., and Orlaya grandiflora Hoffm. may merit phytochemical and phytopharmacological investigations.”

A comprehensive table details the medicinal plants and their uses, including modes of administration and treated diseases.

Read the complete article at 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.

Medicinal Plants of the Canadian Boreal Forest

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Traditional use of medicinal plants in the boreal forest of Canada: review and perspectives

Yadav Uprety, Hugo Asselin, Archana Dhakal & Nancy Julien
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2012 Jan 30;8:7
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3316145

Boreal Forests of North America
Boreal Forests of North America (dark green) [Source: Wikimedia Commons: NASA]
Researchers from Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue “present a review of traditional uses of medicinal plants by the Aboriginal people of the entire Canadian boreal forest in order to provide comprehensive documentation, identify research gaps, and suggest perspectives for future research.”

A review of the literature published in scientific journals, books, theses and reports yielded a total of 546 medicinal plants used to treat 28 disease and disorder categories, with the highest number of species being used for gastrointestinal disorders, followed by musculoskeletal disorders.

Achillea millefolium
Achillea millefolium (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: O. Pichard)

Among the most commonly used plants were Abies balsamea, Achillea millefolium, Acorus calamus, Aralia nudicaulis, Betula papyrifera, Cornus sericea, Heracleum maximum, Juniperus communis, Larix laricina, Menta arvensis, Nuphar lutea, Picea glauca, Picea mariana, Populus balsamifera, Populus tremuloides, Rhododendron groenlandicum , Sorbus americana and Thuja occidentalis.

Tables detail the major ailments treated and common forms of preparation.

Read the complete article at 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.

On Ethnobiology and the Value of Local Knowledge Systems

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Local knowledge: who cares?

Ina Vandebroek, Victoria Reyes-García, Ulysses P de Albuquerque, Rainer Bussmann & Andrea Pieroni
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2011 Nov 23;7:35
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3286427

Researchers from The New York Botanical Garden, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Missouri Botanical Garden and University of Gastronomic Sciences introduce a Thematic Series on Local Knowledge Systems (LKS) – defined as “knowledge, beliefs, traditions, practices, institutions, and worldviews developed and sustained by indigenous and local communities” – and the value of LKS as adaptive strategies to meet local and global challenges:

“The ethnobiological literature showcases several examples that demonstrate the importance and usefulness of LKS for community health, nutrition, education and cultural heritage, conservation and other societal challenges…. This Thematic Series of the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine contains solicited manuscripts based on new research that continues to demonstrate the potential and established value of ethnobiological knowledge and its associated plant and animal resources for local communities and society at large, especially in the areas of community health, education and conservation.”

The authors propose elevating the practice of ethnobiology beyond the merely utilitarian to encompass social-progressive ends:

“All too often, ethnobiology scholars still tend to focus mainly on utilitarian aspects of ethnobiology by publishing inventories of locally used plants, animals and minerals. While this certainly has its own merits in preserving oral local and traditional knowledge (but see also the issue of intellectual property rights …), contemporary ethnobiologists can and should go further. Since knowledge is power, the use of LKS can be a mechanism for local empowerment and equal co-partnership in community-based projects. There are no reasons why not more ethnobiologists should adopt this bottom up approach and design their research projects around local needs and challenges in close consultation with local communities. Or, to put it in the words of a cacique mayor (local chief) from an Amazon community in a conversation with the first author: ‘why is it that scientists are coming to the rainforest to study ants and plants, while we are here with nobody worrying about us?'”

Read the complete article at 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.