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Ethnopharmacological Knowledge among Migrants in Diadema, São Paulo

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Garcia D, Domingues MV, Rodrigues E.
Ethnopharmacological survey among migrants living in the Southeast Atlantic Forest of Diadema, São Paulo, Brazil.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Oct 29;6:29.
PubMed PMID: 21034478; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2987905. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Noting that an understanding of how people of diverse cultural backgrounds have traditionally used plants and animals as medicinal substances during displacements is one of the most important objectives of ethnopharmacological studies, biologists at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo interviewed five migrants who described knowledge about 12 animals and 85 plants used medicinally in their places of origin. The five interviewees migrated from northeast and southeast Brazil and established themselves in Diadema in the 1940s.

From the Background:

“Cultural mixing mediated by the migration of people around the world has generated increasing interest in recent years within the field of ethnopharmacology. Medicinal plants have been used by human societies throughout history, also across geographical barriers. The continuous use of certain plants and animals for medicinal purposes over time reflects their potential therapeutic value. Such substances become even more promising when they are persistently used by migrating human groups despite the considerable distances travelled and the consequent exposure to different cultures and vegetal resources.”

Seven plants [Impatiens hawkeri W. Bull., [Artemisia camphorata Vill.], Equisetum arvensis L. [sic – Equisetum arvense?], Senna pendula (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby, Zea mays L., Fevillea passiflora Vell. and Croton fuscescens Spreng)] and two animals (Atta sexdens and Periplaneta americana) showed maintenance of use among migrants during their displacement in Brazilian territory and have not yet been studied by pharmacologists.

The authors acknowledge that their work raises significant issues related to property rights, as the dynamic use of natural resources presents particularly varied influences: “The interviewed migrants had passed through several Brazilian cities and were exposed to distinct vegetation and cultures. In this migration, they have passed on and incorporated knowledge in an intensive exchange where formulas and uses are mixed and re-invented as a result of contact between cultures.”

Free full text available via PubMed Central.

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