Tag Archives: ethnomedicine

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.

Medicinal Plants of the Terai Forest in Western Nepal

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An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in Terai forest of western Nepal

Anant Gopal Singh, Akhilesh Kumar & Divya Darshan Tewari
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2012 May 16;8:19
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3473258
Rupandehi District, Nepal
Rupandehi District, Nepal (Source: Wikimedia Commons User:Hégésippe Cormier)

Researchers from Tribhuvan University, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, and Maharani Lal Kunwari Post Graduate College documented indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants by the inhabitants of Terai forest in Western Nepal. Using questionnaire, personal interview and group discussion with pre-identified informants, the team identified 66 medicinal plant species used to treat various diseases and ailments grouped under 11 disease categories, with the highest number of species being used for gastrointestinal disorders, followed by dermatological disorders.

From the Background:

“We selected Terai forest of Rupandehi district and adjoining areas for ethnomedicinal investigation because this area is very rich in phytodiversity and tribal population. Besides other usages of plants the practice of oral tradition for healthcare management of human and domesticated animals using herbal medicines is still prevalent among the inhabitants of the area. They have enormous knowledge about medicinal uses of plants and this knowledge is mostly undocumented and transmitted orally from generation to generation. Recently due to unplanned developmental programs, increasing modern healthcare facilities and impact of modern civilization in this area, natural resource as well as traditional knowledge and tribal cultures are depleting rapidly at an alarming rate. Therefore, it is urgent to explore and document this unique and indigenous, traditional knowledge of the tribal community, before it diminishes with the knowledgeable persons. Further, documentation of indigenous and traditional knowledge is very important for future critical studies leading to sustainable utilization of natural resource and to face the challenges of bio-piracy and patenting indigenous and traditional knowledge by others. Besides, to the best of our knowledge no ethnobotanical work has been carried out in this area.”

The authors report, for the first time in Nepal and adjoining areas of India, new medicinal uses of Acacia catechu, Acalypha indica, Achyranthes aspera, Aegle marmelos, Aloe vera, Artemisia indica, Bauhinia variegata, Bombax ceiba, Calotropisgigantea, Carica papaya, Citrus limon, Colocasia esculenta, Coriandrum sativum, Curcuma amada, Cuscuta reflexa, Cynodon dactylon, Dalbergia sissoo, Datura metel, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Dioscorea pentaphylla, Ficus benghalensis, Gloriosa superba, Ipomoea aquatica, Ipomoea batatas, Ipomoea carnea Jacq. ssp. fistulosa, Lagenaria siceraria, Lepidium sativum, Linum usitatissimum, Malva parviflora, Mentha spicata, Mimosa pudica, Mucuna pruriens, Phragmites vallatoria, Polygonum barbatum, Rauvolfia serpentina, Ricinus communis Shorea robusta, Solanum nigrum, Terminalia chebula and Tribulus terrestris.

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 Kimboza Forest Reserve, Tanzania

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Ethnomedicinal study of plants used in villages around Kimboza forest reserve in Morogoro, Tanzania

Ezekiel Amri and Daniel P Kisangau
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2012 Jan 6;8:1
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3268735
Kimboza Forest Reserve, Tanzania
Kimboza Forest Reserve, Tanzania (Source: Wikimedia Commons User:Pharaoh han)

Researchers from Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology and South Eastern University College (A Constituent College of the University of Nairobi) conducted an ethnomedical study to document medicinal plants used in the treatment of ailments in villages surrounding Kimboza forest reserve, “a low land catchment forest with high number of endemic plant species”, indeed, “the richest lowland forest in East Africa.” The authors interviewed 22 traditional medicine practitioners.

From the Results:

“A total of 82 medicinal plant species belonging to 29 families were recorded during the study. The most commonly used plant families recorded were Fabaceae (29%), Euphorbiaceae (20%), Asteraceae and Moraceae (17% each) and Rubiaceae (15%) in that order… The study revealed that stomachache was the condition treated with the highest percentage of medicinal plant species (15%), followed by hernia (13%), diarrhea (12), fever and wound (11% each), and coughs (10%). Majority of medicinal plant species (65.9%) were collected from the wild compared to only 26.7% from cultivated land.”

Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Neem (Azadirachta indica) [Source: Wikimedia Commons User: J.M.Garg]
The plant species used to treat the highest percentage of diseases were Azadirachta indica A. Juss., Bridelia micrantha (Hochst) Baill, Ficus exasperate Valh., Mangifera indica L., Senna hirsuta (L.) Irwin & Barneby, Ocotea usambarensis Engl. and Vernonia hymenolopis A. Rich.

In their Conclusion, the authors note that:

“The results of the study revealed that there is rich diversity of medicinal plants used to treat various ailments in the neighbourhood of Kimboza forest reserve. Herbal practitioners and the local community in the study area should be educated on sustainable methods of harvesting medicinal plants without compromising their availability for future use. It is also imperative to train the community on the proper propagation techniques in order to encourage the domestication of valuable and threatened medicinal plants. The domestication of medicinal plants will create new opportunities for the local people such as provision of an alternative income and could help reduce the pressure on the wild population. Successful conservation strategies should be developed and priority given to sustainable harvesting of the plants.”

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.