Tag Archives: indigenous people

Plants Used for Digestive System Disorders by the Karen of Thailand

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Ethnomedicinal plants used for digestive system disorders by the Karen of northern Thailand

Tangjitman K, Wongsawad C, Kamwong K, et al
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Apr 9;11:27
PubMed Central: PMC4422539

Investigators at Chiang Mai University and Royal Park Rajapruek conducted an ethnobotanical study to document plants used by Karen people of Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand, to treat and prevent digestive system disorders.

The authors open the paper with an introduction of the Karen:

“The Karen originated in Tibet and had migrated to other parts of Southeast Asia, particularly Myanmar. From the 18th century onwards they began to cross the Salween River and moved into Thailand, where they settled in the high mountains of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Lamphun provinces, as well as other areas. In 2003, the Karen people constituted 48% of the total hill tribe population in the region with a population more than 430,000 Karens in Thailand. As they typically reside in the mountain areas, the Karen people have limited access to public healthcare systems. They have therefore accumulated a rich experience related to preventing and treating diseases with herbal remedies, and they have developed a distinctive knowledge of traditional medicine. This traditional knowledge has been handed down from one generation to the next by spoken word and through lifestyle. Most Karen villagers still maintain traditional knowledge of medicinal plants that are used for first aid remedies and to treat simple ailments.”

The team documented 36 plant species used by the Karen to treat digestive system disorders including diarrhea, flatulence, constipation, gastric ulcer, and jaundice.

Curcuma longa
Curcuma longa [Photo: J.M.Garg, Wikimedia Commons]
The medicinal plant species identified included Curcuma longa, Dendrocalamus strictus, Dillenia pentagyna, Engelhardtia spicata, Euphorbia heterophylla, Gymnopetalum integrifolium, Melastoma malabathricum, Musa sapientum, Psidium guajava, Punica granatum, Senna alata, Senna occidentalis, Zingiber montanum, and Zingiber ottensii.

In their conclusion, the authors recommend further research to determine the biological activities of medicinal plants:

“Digestive system disorders have a high prevalence in terms of the morbidity rate among Thai people. This is also considered to be true worldwide, particularly among ethnic people who likely have inadequate access to hygienic levels of sanitation, which may increase the transmission of digestive diseases. The study of medicinal plants among the Karen people of northern Thailand has reported that 36 species were commonly used against digestive system disorders. A literature investigation found that several surveyed plants had similar usage with other ethnic groups in different areas throughout the world. Moreover, the pharmacological studies of some of the medicinal plants could confirm that these plants are considered effective in treating digestive diseases. However, some medicinal plants, which were reported to have high UV and FL values, still require further pharmacological research for the discovery of new compounds and biological activities of these potential medicinal plants. There were certain toxic effects that were found to have been associated with some of these plants. Therefore, herbal remedies should be taken carefully in order to avoid any potential side effects that may occur through utilizing these medicinal plants.”

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.

Wild Plants Used by Lhoba People in Tibet

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Ethnobotanical study on wild plants used by Lhoba people in Milin County, Tibet

Li F, Zhuo J, Liu B, et al
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Mar 24;11:23
PubMed Central: PMC4374410

Mainling (Milin) County, Tibet
Mainling (Milin) County, Tibet [Map: Croquant, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from Minzu University of China, Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Bioversity International conducted an ethnobotanical study to document wild plant species used by Lhoba peoples living in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The authors begin by presenting some richly complex ethnogeographical context for their study:

“The southeast area of Tibet is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. The area is rich in biological resources due to its subtropical humid and semi-humid climate, which extend over extreme elevational differences. Rich medicinal plant resources are distributed in different geographical areas of the region. The region that Nanyi Village is located in has been regarded as a sacred site, and called “Medicinal Lord’s Valley” by healers. The people living in Milin consist primarily of three ethnic groups: the Tibetan, the Monpa (or Moinba or Menba), and the Lhoba (or Luoba). The Lhoba are distributed in three counties of the Nyingchi (Linzhi) Prefecture: Milin, Medog, and Zayü, and in Lhünzê County of the Shannan Prefecture. Researchers have speculated that the Lhoba might be from the integration of several ancient tribes of the southeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Before the Chinese government recognized and decided on “Lhoba” as their unified name in 1965, each tribe had an independent name and a different dialect, “Bo’gaer”, “Bengni”, and “Miguba”. “Lhoba” is derived from pronunciation of which means “southerner” in the Tibetan language”, and has been used to refer to the people living in Lhoyü, Tibet. According to the 2010 census, there are only 3,682 Lhoba in the modern-day Tibet Autonomous Region in China, and Milin County contains the largest population of Lhoba (Bo’gaer tribal group) that lacks a mixed inhabitation with other ethnic groups. Before the 1960s, the Lhoba mainly lived on the abundant plant resources in the Tibetan mountain valleys. They practiced swidden agriculture, in addition to hunting and gathering activities. For centuries, these plant resources have provided the Lhoba’s most important source for medicine and food supplements. The Lhoba have a rich information base of ethnobotanical knowledge for describing and using these species.”

In addition to documenting the traditional ethnobotanical knowledge of the Lhoba, delineating the relationships between the Lhoba and their living environment, and reviewing the impact of Tibetan culture on this knowledge, the team also examined whether the ethnobotanical knowledge of the Lhoba was similar to published information on the Lhoba tribes in neighboring India.

Working with 23 local respondents with ages ranging from 20 to 65 years, the team collected ethnobotanical information for 59 species including medicinal plants, edible plants, and plants used for other aspects of daily life (e.g., fuelwood, dye, religious purposes, timber, tobacco substitutes, fodder).

Berberis pruinosa
Berberis pruinosa [Photo: Daderot, Wikimedia Commons]
Plants used for medicine, food, or both included Angelica apaensis, Berberis pruinosa, Cirsium eriophoroides, Coptis teeta, Dysosma tsayuensis, Erigeron breviscapus, Fargesia macclureana, Litsea cubeba, Litsea pungens, Polygonum tortuosum, Potentilla anserina, Quercus aquifolioides, Ribes himalense, Rosa omeiensis, Rubus biflorus, Sambucus adnata, Sinopodophyllum hexandrum, Sorbus thibetica, Usnea spp, Veronica anagallis-aquatica, and Zanthoxylum bungeanum.

In their conclusion, the authors note some ambivalent effects of integration and recommend investment in the conservation of Lhoba peoples’ traditional plant-derived culture:

“This study documented traditional ethnobotanical knowledge of the Lhoba in Nanyi Township, Milin County, Tibet. Fifty-nine wild plant species were found to be used in traditional medicines, food, dyeing technologies, and religion. These species mainly came from the surrounding areas. Some of these materials are important trade items in local Tibetan and Lhoba markets. The Lhoba in Nanyi use the same plant species for dyes and had similar bamboo weaving handcraft as tribes in adjacent areas in India. In contrast the Lhoba’s use of ethnomedicinal species has been deeply influenced by traditional Tibetan medicine and Chinese medicine. This study reported less plant species compared to other ethnic communities in Tibet. This may be due to the small size of the Lhoba population. The improved access to imported goods from outside their community and the development of tourism has changed the Lhoba lifestyle and production structure. These events signal the need to invest in mechanisms that can enable the Lhoba to benefit from the use of their traditional plant-derived culture and therefore support the continued conservation and use of these important plant 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.

Medicinal Plant Knowledge in the Caribbean Basin

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Medicinal plant knowledge in Caribbean Basin: a comparative study of Afrocaribbean, Amerindian and Mestizo communities

Torres-Avilez W, Méndez-González M, Durán-García R, et al
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Feb 25;11:18
PubMed Central: PMC4347915

Caribbean Basin
Caribbean Basin [Map: US Congressional Research Service]
Working with data collected under the TRAMIL Program of Applied Research to Popular Medicine in the Caribbean, investigators from the Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, and Université des Antilles et de la Guyane conducted a comparative study of medicinal plant repertoires used by Afrocaribbean, Amerindian, and Mestizo communities living in the Caribbean Basin, a region comprising portions of North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean islands.

The authors open with the biogeographical and cultural histories shaping the region’s landscapes , botanical:

“Floral diversity is distinctive in the Caribbean Basin…. Regional geological and biogeographic events, in association with its geographical complexity, have promoted diversity on many fronts. In tandem with the Basin’s social history during the last five hundred years, these biogeographic events have contributed to shaping its biological diversity, with a unique mix of native and exotic species….”

“Floral diversity is extremely high, with high rates of endemism. Hotspots with particularly high rates of endemic species include the islands of Cuba (53%) and Hispaniola (30%). Myers and his collaborators estimate floral species richness in South Florida and the Caribbean islands to be 12,000 species, including endemic species representing 2.3% of all vascular plants on the planet.”

And cultural:

“When European contact began in the Basin in the late 15th Century, a process was begun of severe transformations in ecosystems, natural resources, human groups and cultural components. Significant changes in biodiversity were initiated; for example, deforestation to make way for crops such as sugar cane, banana, tobacco and coffee, active exploitation of native plants and animals and introduction of many exotic species.

“The indigenous peoples of the Caribbean islands were almost totally decimated and replaced by slaves, largely from Africa and Asia, who were used as labor in the developing cultivation and extraction systems. In the islands, slaves mainly mixed with Europeans, but along the Basin’s continental margins both slaves and Europeans mixed with surviving indigenous populations. As a result, the current ethnic composition of the Basin is a heterogeneous mixture including Amerindian, Afrocaribbean and a wide range of Mestizo populations.”

The team selected nine communities – three Amerindian, three Afrocaribbean, and three Mestizo – from the total sample of communities surveyed by TRAMIL. Finding that “native plant species represented a large portion of the medicinal plants used in the Amerindian (81%) and Afrocaribbean (67%) communities, and somewhat less in the Mestizo communities (59%),” they reasoned that “the high proportion of natives used by the Amerindians is both a result of millennia of cultural development in the region and a partial reflection of their preservation of indigenous knowledge in the face of historical events, i.e. a kind of cultural resistance.”

Chief uses of medicinal plant species were for infectious and parasite diseases; symptoms and signs (e.g., headache, fever, itching); digestive system diseases; and respiratory system diseases.

Aloe vera
Aloe vera [Photo: William Avery Hudson, Flickr]
Species used frequently by all three groups included Aloe vera, Citrus aurantiifolia, Citrus aurantium, Chenopodium ambrosioides, and Psidium guajava. Plants used frequently by Afrocaribbean communities included Gossypium barbadense, Saccharum officinarum, Haematoxylum campechianum, Ocimum gratissimum, and Spondias mombin; by Amerindian communities, Lippia graveolens, Ruta chalepensis, Punica granatum, Byrsonima crassifolia, and Struthanthus orbicularis; by Mestizo communities, Mentha nemorosa, Origanum majorana, Ruta graveolens, Justicia pectoralis, and Bidens pilosa.

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.

Antimicrobial Activity of Medicinal Plants Used by the Yaegl Aboriginal Community

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Antimicrobial activity of customary medicinal plants of the Yaegl Aboriginal community of northern New South Wales, Australia: a preliminary study

Packer J, Naz T, Yaegl Community Elders, et al
BMC Res Notes. 2015 Jun 30;8:276
PubMed Central: PMC4485878

Investigators from Macquarie University, in collaboration with the Yaegl Aboriginal Community of New South Wales, studied the antimicrobial potential of plants used in the topical treatment of wounds, sores, and skin infections.

From the paper’s Background section:

“Australian Aboriginal people have over 40,000 years of knowledge of flora and fauna as sources of food, healing agents and other resources. Studies of customary (traditional and contemporary) medicinal plant preparations, especially in recent years, have revealed interesting medicinal properties and valuable biologically active compounds. Australian Aboriginal medicinal flora have had limited biological screening studies aligned with their medicinal uses. Furthermore, the knowledge of their medicinal uses is quickly disappearing, particularly in some regions of the country, such as the southern states of Australia. Assessment of the bioactive potential of these plants with long historical use may support their wider application and also provide a source for safe, accessible alternative medicines and leads for the discovery of new drug-like molecules.

“The ongoing crisis of antimicrobial resistance calls for the investigation of novel sources of antimicrobials. Working with Indigenous communities who have been using natural remedies over the centuries can provide novel sources of antimicrobial therapies and/or lead compounds for the development of new medicines.”

Corymbia intermedia
Corymbia intermedia (Photo: Mark Marathon, Wikimedia Commons)

In discussions with elders of the community, the team selected nine plants for analysis: Alocasia brisbanensis (used for burns and boils, cuts, sores and open wounds); Lophostemon suaveolens, Smilax australis, Smilax glyciphylla, and Syncarpia glomulifera (used for antiseptic purposes); Canavalia rosea (used for boils and sores); Corymbia intermedia (used for the treatment of wounds); Hibbertia scandens (used for sores and rashes); and Ipomoea brasiliensis (used as a poultice for boils).

The team found extracts of L. suaveolens and S. glomulifera active against the fungus Candida albicans and the Gram positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, and extracts of C. intermedia active against a range of microorganisms. The study is the first report of antimicrobial activities for C. intermedia and L. suaveolens and the leaves of S. glomulifera.

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.

The Act of Mining – Two Documentaries from New Directors/New Films

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Eldorado XXI
Directed By Salomé Lamas
2016 Portugal/France
Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara with English subtitles

Behemoth / Beixi moshuo
Directed By Zhao Liang
2015 China/France
Mandarin with English subtitles

Two documentaries from this year’s New Directors/New Films depict the evils released on earth when men plunder the underground.

Salomé Lamas’s Eldorado XXI opens on a frozen landscape where a mining town of aluminum sheds emerges. New Yorker readers will recall the scene from William Finnegan’s Letter from Peru, “Tears of the Sun: The gold rush at the top of the world”:

“The mines at La Rinconada, a bitter-cold, mercury-contaminated pueblo clinging to the glaciered mountainside, are ‘artisanal’: small, unregulated, and grossly unsafe.”

Perhaps a third of Lamas’s film consists of a single shot from a stationary camera, eyeing hundreds of miners descending into and ascending out of this portal to hell.

Other episodes depict a circle of pallaqueras (women who scavenge bits of gold from the nearly depleted mine), chewing coca leaves and smoking cigarettes (“we’re going to die anyway”) as they discuss the upcoming presidential election; a night-time scene of profoundly drunken men navigating the town’s alleyways; and miners’ prayers to the mountain deities before entering the mine.

Before arriving at ND/NF, Eldorado XXI was screened (in IMAX format) by the Berlinale Forum, which also chose Lamas’s scarily fascinating Terra de ninguém for its 2013 edition (read my post).

Zhao Liang’s Behemoth (Beixi moshuo) brilliantly juxtaposes a rumination on Dante’s Divine Comedy with the sights and sounds of destruction of Inner Mongolian grasslands by Chinese coal mining companies.

Completely blacked out by China’s official media outlets, Beixi moshuo has nevertheless gained attention via international festivals:

“The transformation of paradise into purgatory, with hell firmly in sight, gets imposing visual treatment in Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang’s Behemoth. This image-based hybrid of documentary and poetic allegory is a plaintive account of the rape of the earth by coal mining companies in the Inner Mongolian grasslands, and of the dehumanizing existence of local and Chinese migrant workers.” – Hollywood Reporter

“Drawing as much on music and long-form poetry as cinema, Behemoth works like a symphony as it takes us from the surviving pastoral enclaves of rural Mongolia to the hellish noise, dust and smoke of the mines, factories and iron foundries. But it also has a more incisive political message for audiences in the developed world, illustrating as it does the environmental and human cost of the Made-in-China economic miracle that we all benefit from.” – Screen Daily

“Maverick indie helmer Zhao Liang continues his muckraking tour of China’s social and environmental woes with the stunningly lensed, cumulatively moving “Behemoth.” Acting as a modern-day Dante on a tour through Inner Mongolia’s coal mines and iron works, Zhao (“Together,” “Petition”) eschews narrative for an impressively self-shot poetic exercise in controlled righteous outrage, emphasizing the contrasts between rapidly dwindling green pastures and dead landscapes disemboweled by toxic mining. The human toll is also here in the final sections, making starkly clear the price impoverished workers pay for back-breaking labor. Zhao’s quiet yet powerful indignation will play to the arthouse crowd, and his striking visuals should ensure that “Behemoth” receives berths beyond environmental fests.” – Variety

Opening to viscerally shocking explosions against a soundscape of Mongolian throat-singing, Beixi moshuo depicts the literal elevation of Hell onto a rapidly disappearing verdant plain of Mongolian horsemen and their grazing sheep, devastating an ancient way of life and poisoning Chinese workers for the end result of a ghost city.

Mining is murder, and we are all accomplices.

Virtual Berlinale 2016

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I can’t attend the Berlin Film Festival this year, but if I could, here are nine movies I would definitely make an effort to see:

FORUM
A Magical Substance Flows into Me
Palestinian Territories / Germany / Great Britain 2016, 68 min
Arabic, Hebrew, English
Jumana Manna

Posto avançado do progresso / An Outpost of Progress
Portugal 2016, 121 min
Portuguese
Hugo Vieira da Silva

Ta’ang
2016, 148 min
Burmese, Mandarin
Wang Bing

GENERATION
Avant les rues \ Before the Streets
Canada 2016, 98 min
Atikamekw, French
Chloé Leriche

Life on the Border
Iraq 2015, 73 min
Kurdish
Zohour Saeid, Mahmod Ahmad, Delovan Kekha, Diar Omar, Ronahi Ezaddin, Sami Hossein, Basmeh Soleiman, Hazem Khodeideh

NATIVe
Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change
Canada 2010, 54 min
Inuktitut
Ian Mauro, Zacharias Kunuk

PANORAMA
Antes o tempo não acabava / Time Was Endless
Brazil / Germany 2016, 85 min
Portuguese, Tikuna
Fábio Baldo, Sérgio Andrade

Nakom
Ghana / USA 2016, 90 min
English, Kusasi
TW Pittman, Kelly Daniela Norris

Sufat Chol / Sand Storm
Israel 2015, 88 min
Arabic
Elite Zexer

Traditional Knowledge of Wild Edibles Used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, Yunnan Province

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Traditional knowledge and its transmission of wild edibles used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, northwest Yunnan province

Geng Y, Zhang Y, Ranjitkar S, Huai H, Wang Y
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Feb 5;12(1):10
PubMed PMID: 26846564
Yunnan Province
Yunnan Province (Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons)

Investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, World Agroforestry Centre, and Yangzhou University conducted a detailed investigation of wild edibles used by the Naxi (Nakhi, 纳西族) people in Baidi village of Yunnan Province and evaluate them to identify innovative organic food products.

The team recorded 173 wild edible plant species, including Cardamine macrophylla, Cardamine tangutorum and Eutrema yunnanense, traditionally consumed as important supplements to the diet, particularly during food shortages.

From the background:

“The Naxi people, one of the main ethnic groups in northwest Yunnan, have accumulated rich knowledge on using wild edibles. Baidi Village (Sanba Naxi Nationality Township, Shangri-La City, Deqing Prefecture) is located in … the Northwest of Yunnan Province, roughly between the two cities Lijiang and Diqing…. The mountain in its territory belongs to Haba Snow Mountain, Yunling Mountain range. Baidi … reaches an elevation of approximately 4500 m while networks of streams and rivers including Geji and Yangtze dissect numerous valleys, which make it encompass a rich diversity of plants. The village has 15 sections or groups of the settlement, eight of which belong to the Naxi. In the northwest of the village, there is a big limestone terrace, Baishuitai (literal meaning white water terrace). Local people believe this place as a shrine and perform various religious activities. It also is a famous scenic spot that attracts the considerable number of tourists all over the world.”

Hypericum forrestii
Hypericum forrestii (Source: Prashanthns, Wikimedia Commons)

The article details the diversity of wild edibles used by the Naxi (including wild vegetables, wild fruits, teas, and one honey source, Hypericum forrestii) and the traditional wisdom of the Naxi regarding the use of these plants. In their conclusion, the authors propose sustainable investigation of nutritional value and market opportunities, while promoting conservation of traditional knowledge:

“The traditional food knowledge of the Naxi in Baidi is dynamic, affected by social factors and communicated with the outsiders’ food knowledge. Overall, this study provides a deeper understanding of the Naxi traditional knowledge on wild edibles. The study suggests some wild edibles might have an interesting dietary constituent, which necessitates further investigation on the nutrition value as well as market opportunities. With scientific evidence on nutrition value and market opportunity, more people will be attracted toward the wild edibles that will help in addressing food security issues along with conservation of traditional knowledge of the aboriginal population.”

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 Plant Knowledge of the Magar & Majhi People of Western Nepal

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An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by ethnic people in Parbat district of western Nepal

Malla B, Gauchan DP, Chhetri RB
J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 May 13;165:103-17
PubMed PMID: 25571849

Parbat District, Nepal
Parbat District, Nepal [Source: Hégésippe Cormier, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from Kathmandu University conducted an ethnobotanical study to investigate and document traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and their uses by the Magar and Majhi indigenous peoples of Parbat district in Western Nepal.

Paris polyphylla
Paris polyphylla (Source: Alnus, Wikimedia Commons)

Using questionnaire, field observation, personal interviews and group discussion with more than 300 local people, including 15 local healers, the team documented 132 ethnomedicinal plant species used to treat various diseases and disorders including gastrointestinal, parasitic and hepatobiliary disorders; and blood and lymphatic system disorders, among others. Two species, Paris polyphylla and Bergenia ciliata, were confirmed as the best plants with medicinal properties. The authors also consulted with the National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (KATH) to identify the medicinal plant species.

In their conclusion, the authors note that the Magar and Majhi people are rich in ethnomedicinal knowledge, with current use and knowledge are still strong, and urge preservation of both knowledge and habitat:

“The present study showed that the two ethnic communities depend on a variety of plants to meet their requirements and to cure various diseases. Different plant parts are used for medicinal preparation, mode of administration, medicinal doses and other human consumption. However, their understanding and use of the medicinal plants grounds on traditional beliefs. So, the plant with medicinal properties must be chemically investigated for correct identification of bioactive compounds which can be further used for designing drugs. This will be a great contribution for pharmaceutical and herbal industries in Nepal. Our findings revealed that human encroachment such as unplanned development works, [habitat] loss, over exploitation of medicinal plants are the root causes of diminution of highly potent medicinal plants. An appropriate conservation planning is most essential to preserve the medicinal biodiversity in Parbat district. To preserve the plants in natural habitat, it is essential to establish medicinal gardens for ex-situ conservation by mobilizing the local ethnic people. In-situ conservation will help highly usable and depleting species by propagating, reintroducing, regularly monitoring and evaluating processes. Reported medicinal plants need to be systematically screened through phytochemical and pharmacological for potential bioactive compounds. Experimental validation of these remedies may help in developing new drugs which can be used to cure inevitable disease such as cancer, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s and HIV.”

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.




Plants Used as Medicine & Food in the Basque Country

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Medicinal and local food plants in the south of Alava (Basque Country, Spain)

Alarcόn R, Pardo-de-Santayana M, Priestley C, Morales R, Heinrich M
J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Oct 16
PubMed PMID: 26481607

Researchers at the University of London School of Pharmacy, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, and Real Jardín Botánico conducted an ethnobotanical study of local and traditional plant usage in the Alava region of the Basque Country, to evaluate their uses as food and medicine.

Province of Álava, Spain
Province of Álava, Spain [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
The region has large areas of forest and undisturbed regions with high levels of biodiversity, including two nature reserves, Valderejo Natural Park and Izki Natural Park.

Based on interviews and field walking and collection of samples as directed by the local participants, the team identified 184 species used as medicines, food, and health food. Of these, 36 species were used exclusively for medicinal purposes, reflecting an important overlap between food and medicines:

“This calls into question an important paradigm in ethnopharmacology, and we need to consider ways to present medicinal and food properties in an integrated way. Our informants generally do not draw a very strict line between food and medicinal plants, highlighting the ambivalent nature of these two categories. The majority of the informants recognise that food plants can prevent or heal disease or “cleanse” the body.”

Jasonia glutinosa
Jasonia glutinosa [Source: Juan José Girón Ruiz, Wikimedia Commons]
Among the plants that illustrate this overlap between food and medicines are three species that are commonly used as important social beverages: Jasonia glutinosa, Chamaemelum nobile, and Prunus spinosa.

From the conclusion:

“There is no sharp line dividing local food and medicine. This is a culturally constructed division and also influenced by environmental conditions, cultural background, traditional knowledge of the natural resources (useful plants in this case), education, economy, political movements, etc. From the analysis it also becomes apparent that these categories are dynamic. The preparations are characterized by having multiple methods of preparations and flexibility to use under subcategories of food and medicinal properties.”

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.

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Ethnobotany of the Lukomir Highlanders of Bosnia & Herzegovina

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An ethnobotany of the Lukomir Highlanders of Bosnia & Herzegovina

Ferrier J, Saciragic L, Trakić S, Chen EC, Gendron RL, Cuerrier A, Balick MJ, Redžić S, Alikadić E, Arnason JT
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Nov 25;11:81
PubMed Central PMC4658798

Village of Lukomir
Village of Lukomir (Bosnia and Herzegovina) [Source: Martin Brož, Wikimedia Commons]
Researchers at the University of Ottawa, The New York Botanical Garden, Emcarta Inc., the University of Sarajevo, the Université de Montréal, and Foundation GEA+ conducted an ethnobotanical study of the traditional knowledge and use of wild medicinal plants by the Highlanders of Lukomir, Bjelašnica (Bosnia and Herzegovina), an indigenous community of transhumant pastoralist families inhabiting a remote and highly biodiverse region of the Balkans.

Mentha longifolia
Mentha longifolia [Source: Michael Becker, Wikimedia Commons]
Based on field work involving interviews during which participants described plants, natural product remedies, and preparation methods on field trips, garden tours, while shepherding and in other settings, the team identified 58 species cited in medicinal, food, and material use reports. Ten of those species (or subspecies of which) had not previously been reported in systematic ethnobotanical surveys of medicinal plant use the region: Elymus repens, Euphorbia myrsinites, Jovibarba hirta, Lilium bosniacum, Matricaria matricarioides, Phyllitis scolopendrium, Rubus saxatilis, Silene uniflora, Silene uniflora, and Smyrnium perfoliatum. Maximum consensus of medicinal use was obtained on two species: Mentha longifolia and Salvia officinalis.

Medicinal uses included genitourinary system disorders, panacea, pain, and circulatory system disorders (high frequency) and skin/subcutaneous cellular tissue disorders, respiratory system disorders, and ill-defined symptoms (medium frequency).

From the conclusion:

“Although post war development has contributed to the erosion of the self-sustaining traditional lifestyle of the Lukomir Highlanders, our results demonstrate that they continue to have a strong traditional medicine and gathered food system. This traditional knowledge must continue to be valued and maintained in planning for a durable, self-sufficient future for the Lukomir Highlanders. In addition, special emphasis should be placed on the preservation of the vodenica mlini (hydro cereal mills) – a unique cultural technology and visitor attraction that contributes to a traditionally healthy diet and lifestyle.”

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.