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      Children's versus adult's knowledge of medicinal plants: an ethnobotanical study in Tremezzina (Como, Lombardy, Italy)

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          Abstract The study was developed in order to collect information about knowledge on medicinal plant uses by students from some primary school classes located in a small community on the western shore of Lake Como (northern Italy). This information was compared with the one collected from the students' relatives and from other people they were in contact with, in order to evaluate differences and similarities between the children's and the adults' knowledge. Two workshops were led in each of the classes taking part in the project. The first one was performed to introduce our research and the topic of healing plants to the students. During the second workshop we asked the students to fill a survey focusing on which plant remedies they would use as medicines. In another phase of the project each child was given a new survey to be filled in at home while conducting the interviews with their relatives or other adults. Tremezzina children reported the use of 24 medicinal species; 78% of students listed at least one species but only 9% showed to know more than three species and uses. In total, adults reported 85 species in eighteen categories of use. Children listed eight species and eleven uses that were not reported by the adults, suggesting that some of the Tremezzina children's knowledge of the medicinal plants are specific to them. Both children and adults learned about the use of the medicinal plants mainly from their family; however, other sources of knowledge were also reported. Differences related to age and gender in both the informants' groups were also discussed. Our results provide valuable qualitative and quantitative data on the plants used for the medicinal purpose within the studied community.

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          Most cited references 62

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          A prior national survey documented the high prevalence and costs of alternative medicine use in the United States in 1990. To document trends in alternative medicine use in the United States between 1990 and 1997. Nationally representative random household telephone surveys using comparable key questions were conducted in 1991 and 1997 measuring utilization in 1990 and 1997, respectively. A total of 1539 adults in 1991 and 2055 in 1997. Prevalence, estimated costs, and disclosure of alternative therapies to physicians. Use of at least 1 of 16 alternative therapies during the previous year increased from 33.8% in 1990 to 42.1% in 1997 (P < or = .001). The therapies increasing the most included herbal medicine, massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing, and homeopathy. The probability of users visiting an alternative medicine practitioner increased from 36.3% to 46.3% (P = .002). In both surveys alternative therapies were used most frequently for chronic conditions, including back problems, anxiety, depression, and headaches. There was no significant change in disclosure rates between the 2 survey years; 39.8% of alternative therapies were disclosed to physicians in 1990 vs 38.5% in 1997. The percentage of users paying entirely out-of-pocket for services provided by alternative medicine practitioners did not change significantly between 1990 (64.0%) and 1997 (58.3%) (P=.36). Extrapolations to the US population suggest a 47.3% increase in total visits to alternative medicine practitioners, from 427 million in 1990 to 629 million in 1997, thereby exceeding total visits to all US primary care physicians. An estimated 15 million adults in 1997 took prescription medications concurrently with herbal remedies and/or high-dose vitamins (18.4% of all prescription users). Estimated expenditures for alternative medicine professional services increased 45.2% between 1990 and 1997 and were conservatively estimated at $21.2 billion in 1997, with at least $12.2 billion paid out-of-pocket. This exceeds the 1997 out-of-pocket expenditures for all US hospitalizations. Total 1997 out-of-pocket expenditures relating to alternative therapies were conservatively estimated at $27.0 billion, which is comparable with the projected 1997 out-of-pocket expenditures for all US physician services. Alternative medicine use and expenditures increased substantially between 1990 and 1997, attributable primarily to an increase in the proportion of the population seeking alternative therapies, rather than increased visits per patient.
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              Complementary or unconventional treatments are used by many doctors and other therapists throughout Europe. The major forms are acupuncture, homoeopathy, manual therapy or manipulation, and phytotherapy or herbal medicine. The relative popularity of therapies differs between countries, but public demand is strong and growing. Regulation of practitioners varies widely: in most countries only registered health professionals may practice, but in the United Kingdom practice is virtually unregulated. Germany and some Scandinavian countries have intermediate systems. Legal reforms are in progress in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. European institutions are starting to influence the development of complementary medicine. Harmonisation of training and regulation of practitioners is the challenge for the future.

                Author and article information

                Role: ND
                Role: ND
                Role: ND
                Role: ND
                Role: ND
                Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia
                Rev. bras. farmacogn.
                Sociedade Brasileira de Farmacognosia (Curitiba, PR, Brazil )
                October 2019
                : 29
                : 5
                : 644-655
                Firenze orgnameUniversity of Firenze orgdiv1Department Agri-Food Production and Environmental Sciences Italy
                Brescia orgnameUniversity of Milano orgdiv1G.E. Ghirardi Botanic Garden orgdiv2Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Italy
                Pratolino FI orgname Italy
                Tremezzina Como orgnameEnte Villa Carlotta Italy
                Milano orgnameUniversity of Milano orgdiv1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Italy
                S0102-695X2019000500644 S0102-695X(19)02900500644

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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                Product Information: SciELO Brazil
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