Tag Archives: herbalists

Recognizing & Recovering Traditional Knowledge of Saraguro Healers in Southern Ecuador

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Ethnobotany of Indigenous Saraguros: Medicinal Plants Used by Community Healers “Hampiyachakkuna” in the San Lucas Parish, Southern Ecuador

Andrade JM, Lucero Mosquera H, Armijos C
Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:9343724
PubMed Central: PMC5514338

Loja Province, Ecuador
Loja Province, Ecuador [Source: TUBS, WikimediaCommons]
Investigators at Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja conducted an ethnobotanical survey in the Loja Province of southern Ecuador to learn about the use of medicinal plants by Hampiyachakkuna community healers treating the indigenous Saraguro population in San Lucas Parish.

Writing in the journal BioMed Research International, authors José M. Andrade, Hernán Lucero Mosquera, and Chabaco Armijos note that only a few ethnobotanical studies have reported on the use of plants in the Saraguro region and that a thorough documentation of medicinal plants used by Saraguro healers has not been done prior to this investigation. They describe an urgent need to document and preserve this cultural knowledge:

“The Saraguros are one of the best-organized ethnical groups in Ecuador and have conserved many aspects of their ancient culture and traditions for centuries. They demonstrate the latter by preserving their typical dressing, language, religion, gastronomy, architecture, social habits, and medical practices. Among their medical practice traditions, this ethnic group is known for the use of medicinal plants in their own health care system. In fact, the use of these plants as therapeutic agents is an important feature of traditional indigenous medicine and is still practiced within the Saraguro community. In particular, the Saraguros are highly recognized for the development of optimization techniques that help them select natural/plant resources to be used in their health care practices.”

The team carried out their research on several field visits, during which they interviewed four healers from the Saraguro community (a Wachakhampiyachak [midwife], a Yurakhampiyachak [herbalist], a Kakuyhampiyachak [bone-healer], and a Rikuyhampiyachak [visionary]) regarding the medicinal plants they used in their practices. Notably, while the healers are highly trusted and recognized as effective by the community, they are also well integrated into the region’s allopathic health care system and readily transfer a patient to a health center or hospital when they detect serious conditions.

Working with the healers, the investigators documented the existence of 183 medicinal plant species used in 75 different curative therapies, including nervous system treatments, cold treatments, infection treatments, general malaise treatments, inflammatory treatments of the liver and kidneys, and “mythological” treatments (for diseases determined to be of a supernatural nature).

Salvia leucocephala
Salvia leucocephala [Photo: Dick Culbert, Wikimedia Commons]
The team documented thirteen medicinal plants endemic to the region: Achyrocline hallii (sacha algodón); Ageratina dendroides (pegac chilca); Bejaria subsessilis (pena de cerro); Brachyotum scandens (sarcillo sacha); Dendrophthora fastigiata (suelda pequeña); Diplostephium juniperinum (monte de baño); Diplostephium oblanceolatum (chuquir agua); Fuchsia hypoleuca (sacha pena); Huperzia austroecuadorica (wuaminga verde pequeño); Lepechinia paniculata (shallshón); Phoradendron parietarioides (suelda grande); Salvia leucocephala (sp flor morado); Siphocampylus scandens (pena rojo de monte). Most of these plants are either vulnerable or endangered, due primarily to habitat loss.

In their conclusion, the authors stress the importance of preservation:

“This research conducted in collaboration with the members of the native Saraguro community constitutes a baseline study to help promote the preservation of this ancient medicinal knowledge by a thorough documentation of the natural resources and processing methods used. Moreover, we hope the results of this study motivate young generations to envision the potential of the use and application of traditional knowledge in medicinal practices. Finally, this scientific research and the results here reported aim at preserving and enhancing, as much as possible, a culture of the practice of natural ancient medicinal science, while preserving the environment, nature, life, culture, and sovereignty of the Saraguro people.”

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.




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Ancestral Healers Help Document Medicinal Plants of Ecuador’s Chimborazo Province

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Medicinal plants used in traditional herbal medicine in the province of Chimborazo, Ecuador

Morales F, Padilla S, Falconí F
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2016 Nov 23;14(1):10-15
PubMed Central: PMC5357882

Chimborazo Province in Ecuador
Chimborazo Province in Ecuador [Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators at Temple University and Universidad Nacional de Chimborazo conducted an ethnobotanical/phytotherapy study in cooperation with local ancestral healers to document medicinal plants used in traditional herbal medicine in the Province of Chimborazo, Ecuador.

Writing in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines, the authors note the paucity of published ethnomedicinal studies of this region.

“The Andean region of Ecuador has witnessed a marked expansion of nature conservation initiatives. Specifically, the province of Chimborazo, with 59.3% of indigenous population living in rural areas, is considered a millenarian and intercultural province, where multiples cultures and ethnic groups coexist. It owns a rich cultural heritage, with diverse life styles in rural communities. Particularly, in the urban marginal and rural areas of Chimborazo, the native traditional medicine covers the prevention, promotion and cure health services. For that reason, several initiatives have been carried out in order to strengthen the knowledge and wisdom of the ancestral healers of the region. Although there are many studies about medicinal plants in the regions of Quito, Buitrón, Cotopaxi and Imbabura, the phyto studies on Chimborazo province are really limited.”

Urtica dioica
Urtica dioica [Photo: WAH]
The team worked with 84 traditional healers, who identified a total of 153 different medicinal plants used to treat 179 different symptoms or illnesses. Ten of the most-used plants were selected for additional study: chamomile (Matricaria recutita); nettle (Urtica dioica); ragweed (Ambrosia arborescens); rue (Ruta graveolens); eucalyptus (Eucalyptus obliqua); plantain (Plantago major), feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium); borage (Borago officinalis); field horsetail (Equisetum arvense); and mallow (Malva sylvestris).

The traditional healers will be kept informed of ongoing research, as they indicated an interest in knowing any new findings about active ingredients and other properties of the plants used in their ancestral medicine.

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.




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In Kenya, Two More Plant Species Reported As Potential Antimalarials

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Medicinal plants used for management of malaria among the Luhya community of Kakamega East sub-County, Kenya

Mukungu N, Abuga K, Okalebo F, Ingwela R, Mwangi J
J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Dec 24;194:98-107
PubMed Central: PMC5176009

Kakamega County in Kenya
Kakamega County in Kenya [Source: NordNordWest, Wikimedia Commons]
Researchers from the University of Nairobi conducted an ethnobotanical survey to document plants used in the management of malaria among Luhya people living in Kakamega County, Kenya. Two of the species, Rumex steudelii and Phyllanthus sepialis, have not previously been reported as malaria remedies.

In a paper published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the authors describe the need for investigation of antimalarial botanical medicines used by the people of this region:

“In Kenya, 80% of the population is at risk of contracting [malaria]. Pregnant mothers and children under five years are the most affected by this disease. Antimalarial drug resistance poses a major threat in the fight against malaria necessitating continuous search for new antimalarial drugs. Due to inadequate and inaccessible health facilities, majority of people living in rural communities heavily depend on traditional medicine which involves the use of medicinal plants for the management of malaria. Most of these indigenous knowledge is undocumented and risks being lost yet such information could be useful in the search of new antimalarial agents.”

Rotheca myricoides
Rotheca myricoides [Photo: Kurt Stüber, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with traditional medicine practitioners and other caregivers, the team documented 42 plant species used in the management of malaria, including Melia azedarach, Aloe spp, Ajuga integrifolia, Vernonia amygdalina, Rotheca myricoides, Fuerstia africana, Zanthoxylum gilletii, Leucas calostachys, Clerodendrum johnstonii, and Physalis peruviana.

Two of the species identified by the team have not previously been reported as treatments for malaria: Rumex steudelii and Phyllanthus sepialis. With two exceptions (Clerodendrum johnstonii and Physalis peruviana), the rest have been tested in the laboratory for antiplasmodial activities. Antiplasmodial compounds have been isolated from fewer than half of the plants so far.

The authors conclude with a call for conservation, both of traditional ethnomedicinal knowledge and of the medicinal plants themselves. They note that botanical medicines used for malaria are mainly obtained from the wild and that those which are cultivated are done so because they are not easily available in the wild (e.g., introduced plants) or face extinction (e.g., Ajuga integrifolia).

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.




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In Slovenia, A Tradition of Using Media to Advance Ethnomedicinal Knowledge

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Folk use of medicinal plants in Karst and Gorjanci, Slovenia

Lumpert M, Kreft S
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Feb 23;13(1):16
PubMed Central: PMC5324297

Researchers from the University of Ljubljana conducted an ethnobotanical study in two remote Slovenian villages, Karst and Gorjanci.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Mateja Lumpert and Samo Kreft note that only a few rigorous ethnobotanical studies have been conducted in Slovenia:

“The use of plants has been scarcely investigated in Slovenia, and only a few ethnobotanical studies have been conducted. The Karst region is a limestone plateau in southwestern Slovenia that continues on the Italian side of the border. The Italian part of the Karst region, also known as Trieste Karst, was included in an ethnobotanical study of the Venezia Giulia region in 1988, and a list of 59 plants that were used in Trieste Karst was reported. Guštin Grilanc investigated the folk herbalist tradition in both the Italian and Slovenian parts of the Karst region and published a list of 124 plants used for healing, food, toys, superstitions, and folk traditions with short descriptions; however, the methodology of the work was not described, and only a detailed list of informants was given. Gorjanci is a mountain range in southeastern Slovenia that runs southwest to northeast along the Croatian border. From 1950 to 1983, ethnographic researchers collected testimonials on the natural and magical treatment of the people in Dolenjska and Bela Krajina, two regions where Gorjanci is located. Makarovič analyzed the collected testimonials and concluded that the ethnographers’ notes contained random and generalized data on knowledge about natural medicines and magical practices; those data were collected unsystematically and were incomplete. As a result, this analysis provided a very rough estimation of the use of medicinal plants.”

Working with local herbalists, Lumpert and Kreft documented 78 medicinal plants used in Karst and 82 in Gorjanci.

Sambucus nigra
Sambucus nigra [Photo: Willow, Wikimedia Commons]
Sambucus nigra was the most frequently reported plant in both villages. Other frequently reported plants were Rosa spp., Salvia officinalis, Thymus serpyllum, Mentha spp., Melissa officinalis, Matricaria chamomilla, and Tilia spp. in Karst and Achillea millefolium, Tilia spp., Matricaria chamomilla, Urtica dioica, Hypericum perforatum, Rosa spp., Centaurium spp., and Vaccinium myrtillus in Gorjanci.

The authors note a long tradition in Slovenia of herbalists using written sources to advance ethnomedicinal knowledge:

Title page of Tabernaemontanus "Neuw Vollkommentlich Kreuterbuch", 1625
Title page of Tabernaemontanus “Neuw Vollkommentlich Kreuterbuch”, 1625 [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

“In Slovenia, knowledge about plants is transmitted from generation to generation and is also influenced by written sources. The beginning of this practice goes back to Comments of Dioscorides written by Pietro Andrea Mattioli. He lived and worked from 1540 to 1554 in Gorica, a town in northeastern Italy populated by a Slovene-speaking minority, and he was the first to describe plants of Slovenian flora. In the 18th and 19th centuries, folk healers in Slovenian ethnic territory used folk medicine manuscripts, which were translations of mostly German medicine and veterinary books, especially herbals (or Kräuterbücher) from the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century. Most manuscripts were translations of Gart der Gesundheit (1485), Kreutterbuch by Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1590), Neu Vollkommenes Kräuter-Buch by Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1678), Vollständiges Kräuterbuch by Adam Lonicer (1557), and Neu Vollkomentlich Kreuterbuch by Jakob Tabernaemontanus (1613). Later, the translated books were manually transcribed many times, and the transcribers added their own observations to the manuscripts. In the second half of the 19th century, the first original (non-translated) Slovenian works about medicinal plants were published, and manuals for the wild collection, drying and use of Slovenian medicinal plants were issued later. Throughout the 20th century, there was steady growth of published books about medicinal plants; some of them were original Slovenian works, and some were translations from foreign authors; most were written by pharmacists and only some by folk healers.”

With an important and widespread practice of plant collection combined with a nearly 100% literacy rate, Slovenia offers a rare, perhaps unique, perspective on the evolution of ethnomedicinal knowledge in literate societies, where books, television, journals, and the internet join oral transmission between individuals, potentially to bring very rapid cultural change.

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.




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Antimalarial Plants of Eastern Uttar Pradesh

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Ethnobotanical perspective of antimalarial plants: traditional knowledge based study

Qayum A, Arya R, Lynn AM
BMC Res Notes. 2016 Feb 4;9:67
PubMed Central: PMC4743172

Uttar Pradesh in India
Uttar Pradesh in India [Source: Wikimedia Commons, By Filpro]
Investigators from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy conducted an ethnobotanical study to find plants with antimalarial activities used by local people in the Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, and Maharajganj districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The team documented 51 plants used for the treatment of malaria, including Adhatoda vasica, Cassia fistula, and Swertia chirata.

Justicia adhatoda (Adhatoda vasica)
Justicia adhatoda (Adhatoda vasica) [Photo: Wikimedia Commons, By ShineB]
The authors note that many important medicinal plants in the area are becoming rare and some of them are critically endangered because of overexploitation, loss of water reservoirs, and changes in land use.

From the conclusion:

“The work carried out revealed the plants recorded are highly valuable for antimalarial application and in future, bio-prospecting projects can be further initiated for sustainable harvesting towards developing antimalarial drug for curing malaria at large. It would help researchers to find out suitable lead molecules with antimalarial activity towards drug discovery. The study provides ample ground to believe that the traditional medicinal system practice using native medicinal plants is alive and well functioning in the selected area. Many communities use antimalarial plant parts and whole plant for their primary healthcare. It is primarily due to lack of modern medicines, medications, self-reliance on herbs, poor economic condition and more importantly faiths in TK System. The treatment of malaria with plants and plant parts causes little or no side effects and also it is very cheap and affordable. Some plants are nearly extinct in the region, the reason being change in land use pattern and shrinking of water bodies along with over harvesting of herbs. The bio-depletion of these antimalarial plants is due to the burgeoning population and unscientific management of the natural resources.”

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.




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Wild Leafy Vegetables Used by Meitei, Naga, Kuki, and Pangal People of Manipur, Northeast India

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Assessment of wild leafy vegetables traditionally consumed by the ethnic communities of Manipur, northeast India

Konsam S, Thongam B, Handique AK
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jan 29;12:9
PubMed Central: PMC4731935

Investigators from the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development and Gauhati University conducted surveys at markets throughout the state of Manipur in northeastern India to document wild edible vegetables being used by indigenous communities for nutritive and therapeutic purposes.

About the study area:

Manipur in Northeastern India
Manipur in Northeastern India [Map: By Filpro (File:India grey.svg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

“…Manipur, one of the seven states of Northeast India that forms an integral part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot… is rich in both cultural and biological diversity, having populated by diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious groups including many indigenous tribes. Racially, Manipuri people are unique and have features similar to Southeast Asian. The state has four major ethnic communities – Meitei (Hindu), Naga and Kuki (Tribal communities) and Pangal (Muslim). The Meiteis are the dominant non-tribal community constituting 92% of the valley area along with the Pangal (minority group), and the five hill districts are inhabited by about 34 ethnic tribes representing 30% of the state population. They practice distinct culture and tradition and have different socio-economic features. Agriculture is the single largest occupation in Manipur and the mainstay of the state’s economy. The trade of wild vegetables provides an alternative source of income and is mainly done by women. Forests account for 67% of the total land area of this state. The tribal communities collect a large variety of edible and other useful plants from the forest and surrounding wasteland. They also sell a large variety of such plants in the local market.

Ima Keithel
Ima Keithel [Photo: By PP Yoonus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
The famous “Ima Keithel” (meaning “Mother’s market”) of Manipur which sells vegetables and other household items are exclusively run and controlled by women signifying their role in the society both socio-cultural and economically.”

Through interviews with indigenous plant collectors and sellers, the team documented 68 wild edible vegetables used for nutritive and therapeutic purposes, which they then assessed regarding proper exploitation, conservation, and sustainable management.

Zanthoxylum budrunga
Zanthoxylum budrunga [Photo: By Basu, Baman Das; Kirtikar, Kanhoba Ranchoddas [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
Among the most widely used species were Euryale ferox, Chimonobambusa callosa, Ipomoea aquatica, Oenanthe javanica, Alocasia cucullata, Neptunia oleracea, Houttuynia cordata, Hedychium coronarium, Alpinia nigra, Amomum aromaticum, Eryngium foetidum, Passiflora edulis, Ficus benghalensis, and Zanthoxylum budrunga. Several species were found to be consumed mainly by the tribal communities and rarely known to other communities. These included Z. budrunga, P. edulis, Clerodendrum colebrookianum, Spilanthes paniculata, Cissus javanica, Elatostema lineolatum, Plantago erosa, Litsea cubeba, Zehneria scabra, Cyclanthera pedata, Piper pedicellatum, Solanum nigrum, Eurya acuminate, Solanum betaceum, Allium chinense, Heteropanax sp., Dysoxylum gobara, Diplanzium esculantum, Etlingera linguiformis, Derris wallichii, and Phrynium placentarium.

The authors note:

“Many more such unexplored leafy vegetables are believed to exist. There is a need for exploitation of such unexplored resources given the storehouse of traditional knowledge the tribal possessed. It will provide a way for screening newer and alternative source of nutrition.

“The present finding will be useful in the evaluation of nutritional components of high priority species for their integration into the agricultural system based on nutritive values. Further, assessing their cultivable potential and working towards developing agro-techniques can bring more potential species under domestication for conservation through sustainable use. Moreover, it will also help to understand their role in future food and nutritional security of the state. Therefore, documentation and prioritization would ensure that the highest priority species is preserved for use in crop improvement programs and contribute towards achieving the goal of food and nutritional security.”

This study – the first integrated assessment of wild leafy vegetables to be done in the region – provides a methodology to help select and preserve high-priority species for new alternative sources of nutrition.

“According to the integrated assessment, 57 out of 68 (84%) species have good to high value. These high scoring species exhibit the traits of high-quality vegetables, such as taste, appropriate edible parts, multiple edible parts, availability, abundance, easily cultivable, simple to collect and process, and so on. To increase dietary diversity and livelihood sustenance of local people, complimentary studies and further ethnobotanical studies will be conducted. The traditional knowledge and understanding of wild food plants may serve as baseline data for future research and development activities and further biotechnological intervention. A detailed evaluation of nutritional components of the potential species should be conducted for integration into the agricultural system based on their nutritive values and for the conservation of elite germplasm. Further studies should also be done to assess their cultivable potential and work towards developing propagation and agro-techniques to bring more potential wild species under domestication for sustainable utilization of natural resources. Furthermore, proper value chain development for marketing and value-addition of selected species can facilitate enough income to native communities. Documentation and conservation of highest priority species would ensure they are available for use in genetic improvements of crop species as a contribution towards food and nutritional security. Therefore, communities should engage in sustainable management and preservation of traditional knowledge of these multi-valued resources for the well-being local communities.”

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.




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Medicinal Plants Used Around Mabira Central Forest Reserve, Uganda

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Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plant species used by communities around Mabira Central Forest Reserve, Uganda

Tugume P, Kakudidi EK, Buyinza M, Namaalwa J, Kamatenesi M, Mucunguzi P, Kalema J.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jan 13;12:5
PubMed Central: PMC4712608

Investigators from Makerere University conducted an ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in 14 villages adjacent to Mabira Central Forest Reserve in Central Uganda, an area about 20 km north of Lake Victoria shoreline immediately to the west of Victoria Nile.

More about the study area:

“The forest reserve occupies gently undulating landscape characterised by numerous flat-topped hills (relics of the ancient African peneplain), and wide shallow valleys…

“Commercial use of the forest began when some parts were harvested in the early 1900’s and until 1988, intensive coffee/banana agricultural encroachment badly damaged parts of the forest. About 21% and 26% of the reserve have been designated as strict nature reserve and buffer zone respectively and the forest in these areas is recovering following extensive plantings of native tree species.

“The human population living in the forest enclaves was approximately 825,000 with a density of 200–230 people per Km-2. The local people are mainly of the Bantu ethnic group of the following tribes; Baganda, Banyarwanda, Basoga, Bagisu, Bakiga, Banyankole, Bagwere and Batoro.

“The reserve has tea and sugarcane plantations around. Some local people reside in settlements for labourers on the tea and sugarcane estates. The extent of growing cash crops other than tea and sugar cane is limited by scarcity of land. However locals are engaged in cultivation of food crops mainly for subsistence consumption like maize, beans, bananas, ground nuts, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Livestock rearing is limited to a few households.”

The team documented 190 plant species used in the treatment of various health conditions. The ten most important medicinal plant species were Vernonia amygdalina, Mormodica feotida, Warbugia ugandensis, Prunus africana, Piptadeniastrum africana, Erythrina abyssinica, Albizia corriaria, Spathodea campanulata, Mondia whitei, and Alstonia boonei.

Vernonia amygdalina
Vernonia amygdalina [Photo: By Kwameghana (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
Vernonia amygdalina was found to be an especially important species, with a fidelity level of 100% and ranking highest in the treatment of malaria:

“Its leaf extract has been confirmed for having good anti-malarial effects and through in vitro studies. Vernonia amygdalina contains steroid glycosides, sesquiterpene and lactones which are active against Plasmodium falciparum. This species has also been found to be clinically effective for the treatment of malaria patients. In human trials, extracts of Vernonia amygdalina reduced parastaemia by 32%. Although Vernonia amygdalina is effective for malaria treatment, it can induce labour in pregnant women thus causing miscarriages and therefore should be avoided by them. Species with high fidelity level such as Vernonia amygdalina for malaria and Erythrina abyssinica for vomiting indicates that these species two were considered of great cultural significance. Erythrina abyssinica too has a wide range of use varying from treatment of malaria, syphilis, tuberculosis to amoebiasis in Uganda. In Kenya E. abyssinica is used to treat mumps, respiratory tract infections in Mexico and febrile illness in Ethiopia. Its usage for different ailments is possibly due to a wide range of bioactive compounds.”

In their conclusion, the authors found that “the diversity of medicinal plant species used and the associated indigenous knowledge are of great value to the local community and their conservation and preservation is paramount.”

“The study shows that [Mabira Central Forest Reserve] habours a wide diversity of plant species used as remedies for several ailments. Such plants are very useful especially to people who cannot afford modern medical care and in cases where access to modern heath facilities is not easy. Knowledge and use of herbal medicine for treatment of various ailments among the local people is still part of their life and culture and this calls for preservation of the integrity of the forest and indigenous knowledge of herbal medicine use. The documented plants have potential of being used in drug development.”

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.




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The Glocal Nature of Waldensian Ethnobotany

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Isolated, but transnational: the glocal nature of Waldensian ethnobotany, Western Alps, NW Italy

Bellia G, Pieroni A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 May 7;11:37
PubMed Central: PMC4495842

A Waldensian Mountain Cottage
A Waldensian Mountain Cottage (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Keystone View Company Studios, 1881 [Public Domain])
Investigators at the University of Gastronomic Sciences conducted an ethnobotanical field study of traditional uses of wild plants for food and medicinal/veterinary purposes among Waldensian communities in the Western Alps of Italy.

Working with forty-seven elderly informants (typically small-scale farmers and shepherds), the team documented the uses of 85 wild and semi-domesticated food folk taxa, 96 medicinal folk taxa, and 45 veterinary folk taxa. Commonly used medicinal plants included Arnica montana, Artemisia absinthium, Abies alba, and Chelidonium majus.

Arnica montana
Arnica montana (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1896 [Public Domain])
The authors conclude that local plants play an important role in food security and the management of human and animal health in these communities, and may constitute a key resource for sustainable development in the area:

“A marked persistence of local knowledge regarding these plants among Waldensians confirms the importance of studying enclaves as well as cultural and linguistic “isles” in ethnobotany, which may represent both crucial reservoirs of folk knowledge and bio-cultural refugia.

On the other hand, the findings of this study indicate that a proper conservation of the bio-cultural heritage, such as the ethnobotanical one, requires strategies, which carefully consider natural landscapes and resources as well as cultural and religious customs, since plant folk knowledge systems are the result of a continuous interplay between these two domains over centuries.

Finally, these neglected local plant resources may represent a key issue for fostering a sustainable development in an area of the Alps, which has been largely untouched by mass tourism and is looking with particular interest at eco-touristic trajectories.”

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.




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Medicinal Plant Knowledge of Herbalists in Sulaymaniyah Province, Kurdistan, Iraq

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Ethnopharmacobotanical study on the medicinal plants used by herbalists in Sulaymaniyah Province, Kurdistan, Iraq

Ahmed HM
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jan 28;12(1):8
PubMed PMID: 26821541
Sulaymaniyah Province in Iraqi Kurdistan
Sulaymaniyah Province in Iraqi Kurdistan (Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons)

Hiwa Achmed of Sulaimani Polytechnic University conducted an ethnobotanical survey to document traditional knowledge about uses of medicinal plants among traditional healers in the Province of Sulaymaniyah (Kurdistan, Iraq).

This is the first ethnobotanical study in Sulaymaniyah, reported to be “the most famous and important area of Kurdistan, and possibly even all of Iraq, with lofty mountains and scattered flora, many of which are still unexplored from taxonomic and medicinal points of view.” Several medicinal plant species and new properties of medicinal plant species were found that have not been reported before in Kurdistan.

Zingiber officinale
Zingiber officinale (Source: Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, Wikimedia Commons)

The study documented 66 plant species used to treat respiratory issues, inflammations, and gynecological diseases, among other illnesses. Plants of particular medicinal importance included Zingiber officinale, Matricaria chamomilla, Adiantum capillus-veneris, Thymus vulgaris, and Pimpinella anisum.

From the conclusion:

“These findings suggest that medicinal plants and folk medicines used by healers in Southern Kurdistan may represent a starting point for further comparative cross-cultural ethnobiological research, which may contribute to increase the current knowledge of folk medicinal plants and could lead to the conservation strategies aimed at protecting possible rare plant species. The current research contributed to the existing ethnobotanical literature by identifying a number of new plant uses and their perceived health benefits to humans. Perhaps, more importantly, the results of this study could assist small-scale companies to utilize local plant resources for medicine, as natural products meet the demand of patients, who also in Kurdistan desire less pharmaceuticals; moreover, medicinal plants may provide economic benefits to local communities as well, in an area of the Middle East, which have gone through hard times in the last decades.”

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.