Tag Archives: indigenous people

The Interplay of Language & Knowledge: Plant Species Used by the Chácobo

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Traditional knowledge hiding in plain sight – twenty-first century ethnobotany of the Chácobo in Beni, Bolivia

Paniagua Zambrana NY, Bussmann RW, Hart RE, Moya Huanca AL, Ortiz Soria G, Ortiz Vaca M, Ortiz Álvarez D, Soria Morán J, Soria Morán M, Chávez S, Chávez Moreno B, Chávez Moreno G, Roca O, Siripi E
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Oct 10;13(1):57
PubMed Central: PMC5634836

Beni Department of Bolivia
Beni Department of Northeastern Bolivia [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Missouri Botanical Garden and Instituto Linguistico Chácobo conducted an ethnobotanical inventory of the indigenous Chácobo population, with interviews and plant collection conducted directly by Chácobo counterparts in the Beni department of northeastern Bolivia.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, the team describes the Chácobo Ethnobotany Project, in which they trained 10 indigenous Chácobo participants in ethnobotanical interview and plant-collection techniques. In turn, the interviewers collected ethnobotanical information from 301 Chácobo participants, representing almost the entire adult Chácobo population.

About the Chácobo people (from the paper’s Methods section):

“The Chácobo belong to the Panoan linguistic group, which includes about twelve tribes (Chácobo, Pacahuara, Matis, Matses, Yaminahua, Ese Eja and others). At the end of the 1890s, the Chácobo lived as semi–nomadic hunters and cassava and maize cultivators, probably in two groups, one with six families and one with four, in north Bolivia, between Lake Roguagnado and the river Mamore, south of their current territory. During the rubber boom in the early 1900s, they were forced by more aggressive tribes to move north, where rubber tappers, who also brought disease and epidemics to the tribe, threatened them. While other tribes were enslaved to work in rubber stations, the Chácobo managed to avoid most of the outside influences. Their first permanent contact with the outside world occurred only in 1953 with members of the the Tribes Missions, and in 1954 the Bolivian government established an agency about 15 km from the current location of Puerto Limones. The missionary linguist Gilbert Prost arrived in 1955 under the auspices of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL)…. In 1964, Prost managed to buy a territory in the north of the Chácobo’s ancestral lands, forming the community of Alto Ivón, and most of the remaining population moved there. In 1965, the Bolivian government finally assigned 43,000 ha of land to the Chácobo, although this area was less than 10% of their original territory. The influence of the SIL caused profound cultural change among the Chácobo, including the reported abandonment of traditional costume and dances in 1969. The official indigenous organization of the Chácobo (Central Indígena de la Región Amazónica de Bolivia (CIRABO) estimates a current population of the Chácobo community of about 1000 people…. The current territory of the tribe according to CIRABO encompasses 450,000 ha, and is roughly equivalent to the original extent of the tribe’s ancestral lands.”

Dysphania ambrosioides, formerly Chenopodium ambrosioides
Dysphania ambrosioides (Chenopodium ambrosioides) [Source: USDA, Wikimedia Commons]
The project documented 331 plant species used by the Chácobo people, including a large number of plants with specifically medicinal uses. Medicinal plants included Allium cepa, Allium sativum, Anacardium occidentale, Chenopodium ambrosioides [Dysphania ambrosioides], Cymbopetalum brasiliense, Mangifera indica, and Tapirira guianensis, among others.

The team worked exclusively with Chácobo interviewers in an effort to avoid the limiting influence of foreign interviewers. In their Discussion, the authors note a possible link between traditional knowledge and traditional language, with indigenous language proficiency correlating with ethnobotanical knowledge:

“The observation that local and indigenous languages often package rich traditional ecological knowledge has led to the question in many studies of whether indigenous language abilities influence plant knowledge, i.e. if native language speakers have a higher knowledge than participants only speaking a mainstream language. In our study, the link between language proficiency and other metrics of traditional knowledge (plants and uses reported) does support at least the correlation of these variables, and suggest the possibility of simultaneous language and knowledge retention (or erosion).”

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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Conservation in Conflict with Ethnobotanical Culture in Tanzania’s Kilombero Valley

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Traditional knowledge on wild and cultivated plants in the Kilombero Valley (Morogoro Region, Tanzania)

Salinitro M, Vicentini R, Bonomi C, Tassoni A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Mar 9;13(1):17 PubMed Central: PMC5345176

The Kilombero River floodplain of Tanzania, from Udzungwa Mountains National Park
The Kilombero River floodplain of Tanzania, from Udzungwa Mountains National Park [photo: Jens Klinzing, Wikimedia Commons]
Researchers from the University of Bologna and MUSE (Museo delle Scienze) investigated and recorded traditional knowledge about the use of wild and cultivated plants in villages adjacent to Udzungwa Mountains National Park in Tanzania’s Kilombero River floodplain.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, the team reports findings from interviews with ten traditional local healers selected with the collaboration of Associazione Mazingira, a group affiliated with MUSE that runs environmental education projects in the area and maintains close contact with the local people.

Cajanus cajan
Cajanus cajan [Art: Francisco Manuel Blanco, Wikimedia Commons]
The traditional healers described 196 plant species used for ethnomedicinal and other everyday purposes like food, fibers, and timber, 118 of which the team could classify botanically. Species highly cited for medicinal purposes included Cajanus cajan (teeth and gums, otitis); Hibiscus surattensis (eye diseases, gastrointestinal diseases); Kigelia africana (pain and inflammation, gastrointestinal diseases); and Vitex doniana (weakness and fainting).

The authors note that forests in Tanzania are under severe threat, with deforestation in the Kilombero Valley in particular caused by competition for land by agriculture, teak and eucalyptus plantations, and charcoal production. In contrast to the lowlands, forests in the neighboring Udzungwa Mountains are protected along the entire range, increasingly restricting the access of local people to harvesting areas, to the detriment of ethnobotanical knowledge in the region:

“For years, local healers could bypass the restrictions for access to National Parks, but given the increasingly strict rules, they have lately been forced to change their places of collection with a serious impact on everyday life. In fact, the knowledge and experience of each traditional healer are deeply linked to the place where he/she learned and practiced plant collection over the years. There are now few forest areas in Kilombero Valley that can provide therapeutic plants. These are located far from the villages, and some of the collection methods, such as decortication [removal of a plant’s outer layer], could be extremely impactful when carried out in small areas, making the plants unusable after a few years….

“Since the founding of Udzungwa Mountains National Park, more than 24 years ago, there has been a depletion of the traditional medical culture, due to the forced abbandonement of familiar areas of collection, as well as the progressively more difficult transmission of knowledge to and training of young healers. Finally, the cost of traditional medicine is now starting to grow, causing a significant problem for people who have always relied on this method for their healthcare.”

The creation and subsequent management of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park has had the unintended consequence of reducing collection areas for plant species essential to the lives of people living in the Kilombero Valley, intensifying the harvesting pressure on the few remaining areas of unprotected forest and endangering ethnobotanical culture and knowledge developed over many generations:

“Harvesting practices like root excavation and stem decortication are causing a progressive depletion of many medicinal plant species. In addition, deforestation makes medicinal species harvesting areas increasingly scarce, forcing many local healers to abandon the practice. In the light of these facts, it is essential, in the immediate future, to educate traditional healers as well as common people to the sustainable use of the surrounding natural heritage. It seems also necessary to provide the populations with additional means to increase the forested areas, such as the distribution of seedlings for biomass production. Although some efforts have already been made in the studied territory, and in spite of a firm tradition in Tanzania of community-based forest conservation, the situation remains critical and the state of unprotected forests near these villages is deteriorating year after year. This situation, if not quickly reversed, may lead to an unprecedented environmental crisis and to the loss of much of the traditional ethnobotanical culture. In this context, the present study wishes to contribute, at least to some ex[t]ent, to preserving the knowledge present in the investigated populations, still deeply connected to nature, and to passing down this unevaluable tradition to future generations.”

In passing, the authors state that “no actions have been taken to solve problems related to plant gathering practices.” Might this area of neglect motivate some new initiatives to solve a perennial problem, how best to balance the aims of forest conservation with the rights and needs of indigenous 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.




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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Traditional Medicine Practitioners in Togo Share Their Knowledge of Plants Used to Treat Asthma

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Ethnobotanical study of plants used to treat asthma in the maritime region in Togo

Gbekley HE, Katawa G, Karou SD, Anani S, Tchadjobo T, Ameyapoh Y, Batawila K, Simpore J
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2016 Nov 23;14(1):196-212
PubMed Central: PMC5411872

Togo
Togo [Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from the Université de Lomé and Centre de Recherche Biomoléculaire Pietro Annigoni conducted an ethnobotanical survey to document plants used in Togolese traditional medicine to treat asthma in Togo’s southernmost Maritime Region, where the main ethnic groups are the Ewe, Ouatchi, Mina, Fon, and Adja people.

For their study, the team interviewed 121 traditional healers, who use clinical manifestations such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty in speaking, dyspnea, dry cough, sweating, and increased heart rate to diagnose the disease.

Carica_papaya
Carica papaya [Source: Wikimedia Commons, Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen]
Writing in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, Gbekley et al. document 98 plant species used in southern Togo to treat asthma, including Carica papaya, Cataranthus roseus, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Piper guineense, Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus globules, and Euphorbia hirta. The team conducted a literature review to assess previous relevant ethnobotanical citations related to asthma, toxicity data, and screening reports for immunomodulatory activities.

From the introduction:

“Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by variable airflow limitation and/or airway hyper-reactivity with symptoms causally related to family history, environmental influences, exposure to viruses and allergens as examples. The high economic burden linked with asthma is associated primarily with health care costs, missed work or school days. The treatment of asthma in the modern medicine is based on the use of beta agonists, leukotriene modifiers and inhaled corticosteroids that allowed an acceptable control of the main symptoms. However, this therapy could not suppress all the symptoms although the better understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease. On the other hand, the requirement for daily inhalation with glucocorticoids is often a cause for patient discomfort, limiting the use of glucocorticoids in asthma therapy. In addition, the current therapy is not affordable for the patients in developing countries, who rely on the traditional medicine. Therefore, there is a significant need for new medications for the treatment of asthma that are highly efficacious, with low cost, easily managed and with few adverse effects. In the search for new medications for asthma, plants through the traditional medicine are a credible alternative.”

The authors recommend further laboratory screenings to identify specific bioactive molecules that might be responsible for the reported therapeutic activities of these plant-derived medicines, and to investigate optimal dosages as well as possible side effects.

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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Ethnopharmacological Preparations of Monpa People in Arunachal Pradesh

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First Report on the Ethnopharmacological Uses of Medicinal Plants by Monpa Tribe from the Zemithang Region of Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Himalayas, India

Chakraborty T, Saha S, Bisht NS
Plants (Basel). 2017 Mar 2;6(1)
PubMed Central: PMC5371772

Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Himalayas, India
Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Himalayas, India [Source: Filpro, Wikimedia Commons]
Researchers at Jiwaji University, University of Freiburg, Forest Research Institute, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education conducted a study to document, for the first time, ethnopharmacological preparations of ethnomedicines among the Monpa people in the Zemithang region of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Their study is published in the open-access journal Plants.

From the introduction:

“Before coming to our research objectives, we would like to briefly mention the state of the art of ethnopharmacological research in the Himalayas. There are plenty of research works on the listing of the traditional uses of medicinal plants from the Himalayas. A search with the terms “medicinal plants * Himalayas” yielded 163 peer-reviewed articles listed in ISI Web of Knowledge on 20 February 2017. However, out of those 163 articles, 19 articles were found from the Eastern Himalayas and only two were on the Monpa tribe…. Haridasan et al., in the seminal works produced in 1998 and 1990, comprehensively listed medicinal and edible plants of the Monpa tribe and other tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Recently, Namsa et al. (2011) listed 50 plant species and recorded their ethnobotanical uses among people of the Monpa tribe at the southern range of their habitation (i.e., Kalaktang circle of West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh). These two publications provided general descriptions of the plants, traditional uses of the plants to cure certain diseases, and traditional ways of consumption of these plants or plant parts (e.g., pills, syrups, decoctions, etc.). Nevertheless, no ethnopharmacological studies have yet reported how, and in what proportion, multiple plant parts from different species can be used to prepare specific ethnomedicines for healing of diseases among the Monpa tribes or any other tribes of the Eastern Himalayas as per our literature research as of 20 February 2017. In addition, the traditional knowledges of the people of the Monpa tribe residing at their northern habitation range (i.e., Zemithang circle of Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh) are still not adequately documented due to the remoteness of the location.”

Aconitum ferox
Aconitum ferox [Source: Wikimedia Commons, Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen]
The team describe 24 ethnomedicines prepared by traditional healers based on 53 plant species, including Aconitum ferox, Bergenia stracheyi, Campanula latifolia, Fragaria nubicola, Gentiana depressa, Hedychium spicatum, Iris clarkei, Leontopodium himalayanam, Meconopsis grandis, Onopordum acanthium, Panax pseudoginseng, Rheum australe, Swertia chirayita, Tanacetum gracile, and Vaccinium nummularia.

In their conclusions, the authors urge further scientific work based on the know-how of Monpa healers, with an eye toward conservation of their traditional ethnopharmacological knowledge:

“We have documented for the first time the vernacular names combined with ethnopharmacological preparations of ethnomedicines among Monpa tribes from the Zemithang region of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Past studies on ethnobotany in the Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Himalayas, had listed uses of medicinal plants, however, we found that traditional healers use diverse species and plant parts in specific proportions for drug preparations. Our study illustrates the diversity of medicinal drug preparations and traditional knowledge that has passed through generation after generation of Monpa people. The ethnopharmacological documentation presented in this study should motivate researchers to carry out further scientific work on pharmacology, bioprospecting, and the cultivation of medicinal plants for the socioeconomic development in the region. Under ongoing warming of the Himalayas and mass migration of people from the mountain areas to cities, our study also highlights the need to document the traditional knowledge regarding the use of local flora and to develop strategies to conserve them before the traditional knowledges are lost or forgotten.”

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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Ethnobotanical Heritage of the Shuar People

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Ethnobotanical Research at the Kutukú Scientific Station, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador

Ballesteros JL, Bracco F, Cerna M, Vita Finzi P, Vidari G
Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:9105746
PubMed Central: PMC5198176

Researchers from Universidad Politécnica Salesiana and the University of Pavia conducted an ethnobotanical study on the uses of medicinal plants by indigenous people near the Kutukú Scientific Station, which is located on the Kutukú mountain range in the Morona-Santiago province of southeast Ecuador.

About seven indigenous communities live in the study area, all of them members of the Shuar ethnic group:

“The ethnobotanical study performed in this work gave us a real panorama about the natural remedies used by the inhabitants in the territory of the Kutukú Scientific Station of the Morona canton of the province of Morona-Santiago, south of Ecuador. This research was realized with “Shuar” community, which is very different from the “Achuar” community cited in the article by Giovannini, even the geographical location and the altitude are different.”

Acmella ciliata
Acmella ciliata [Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Ks.mini]
With guidance from the Shuar, the team identified recorded therapeutic uses of 131 medicinal plants, including Acmella ciliata, Byrsonima arthropoda, Citharexylum poeppigii, Croton lechleri, Ilex guayusa, Siparuna harlingii, Verbena litoralis, and Virola pavonis. Most of the plants are native to the region. Therapeutic uses included aids for wound healing, “mal aire,” diarrhea, nourishment, kidney and bladder affections, fever, and rheumatism.

The authors note the urgency to preserve the cultural patrimony of the Shuar through sustainable research and development:

“In this work we analyzed the ethnobotanical patrimony of Kutukú Scientific Station, located on the Kutukú mountain range in the Morona-Santiago province, Ecuador. By doing that, we intended to safeguard the popular knowledge concerning plants and to produce a database of plant uses and advantages. This data could be used by the citizens themselves and could be the base for future actions in programs of scientific investigations, environmental education, social awareness, and natural resources exploitation, as well as the start point of touristic attraction based on the sustainable development of the territory.”

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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