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      Intracultural Variation in the Knowledge of Medicinal Plants in an Urban-Rural Community in the Atlantic Forest from Northeastern Brazil


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          This study assessed the intracultural knowledge of the use of medicinal plants in an urban-rural community in an Atlantic forest fragment in northeastern Brazil. We examined the importance of native and exotic species and the effects of gender and age on that knowledge. We also compared data obtained from different groups of informants (local experts and general community). We conducted 194 interviews between June 2007 and January 2008, using the freelist technique and semistructured forms to collect ethnobotanical data. Information obtained from the community was compared with that from six local experts who participated in a survey in 2003. From a total of 209 ethnospecies, exotic and herbaceous plants presented higher richness. With respect to the number of citations, women and older informants were shown to know a higher number of medicinal plants. Comparing knowledge of local experts with that of the general community, we noted that experts know a similar wealth of plant families and therapeutic indications, but the community knows a greater species richness. These results indicate that local experts may provide useful information for studies that search for a quick diagnosis of the knowledge of a given community.

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          Medicinal plants of the caatinga (semi-arid) vegetation of NE Brazil: a quantitative approach.

          The caatinga (semi-arid vegetation) is a Brazilian biome with a significant but poorly studied biodiversity closely associated with a diverse cultural heritage. The present work focused on analyzing published information available concerning medicinal plants used by traditional communities. We sought to contribute to future phytochemical and pharmacological investigations by documenting the therapeutic uses of native caatinga plants within the aims of modern ethnopharmacological research. Twenty-one published works cited a total of 389 plant species used by indigenous and rural communities in northeastern Brazil for medicinal purposes. The relative importance index (RI) of each species in these inventories was calculated, and information concerning the plant's local status (spontaneous or cultivated), distribution, and habit was recorded. Of the 275 spontaneous (non-cultivated) species cited, 15.3% were endemic to the caatinga. A statistical relationship was verified between the relative importance of the species and their endemic status (p<0.05). Herbaceous plants were more numerous (169) than trees (90) or shrubs and sub-shrubs (130) at a statistically significant level (p<0.05). A survey of published information on the phytochemical and pharmacological status of the plants demonstrating the highest RI supported the veracity of their attributed folk uses.
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            Medicinal plants of the Meinit ethnic group of Ethiopia: an ethnobotanical study.

            The majority of the Ethiopian people, including the Meinit ethnic group, are highly dependent on medicinal plants for their day-to-day public healthcare and veterinary needs. The existence of medicinal plants and the associated knowledge is, however, currently being threatened mainly due to deforestation, environmental degradation and acculturation. Thus, there is an urgent need to document and analyse the knowledge. The aim of this study was to record and analyse local knowledge of the Meinit people of Ethiopia on the use of plants to treat or cure diseases of humans and domestic animals. Ethnobotanical data were gathered through series of individual interviews conducted with selected informants representing different social groups within the Meinit Community. Fidelity Level (FL) values were calculated to estimate the healing potentials of claimed medicinal plants. The study revealed 51 medicinal plants, most of which were herbs. Root was the most frequently used part in remedy preparation. The majority of medicinal plants were not cultivated. Significantly higher numbers of medicinal plants were cited by men than women, by older people than younger ones and by illiterate people than literate ones. Rumex nepalensis Spreng., Leucas deflexa Hook.f. and Embelia schimperi Vatke were the medicinal plants that scored the highest FL values. Acculturation of the young generation has been found to be the major treat to the continuation of traditional medical knowledge and practice in the study area. Efforts should, therefore, be made to incorporate traditional medicine in school curricula so that younger people could appreciate its usefulness. Priority for further Pharmaco-chemical investigation should be given to plants that scored highest FL values, as such values could indicate better efficacy.
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              Medicinal plants of the Shinasha, Agew-awi and Amhara peoples in northwest Ethiopia.

              Study was conducted in two sub-districts in northwestern Ethiopia to compile and analyse knowledge on the use of medicinal plants for treatment or prevention of human ailments by three socio-cultural groups, namely the Amharas, Shinashas and Agew-Awis. Data were mainly collected through individual interviews conducted with selected knowledgeable farmers and professional healers of the three socio-cultural groups. A total of 76 medicinal plants belonging to 48 families were documented, of which 50 species were reported by the Amharas, 25 by the Shinashas and 20 by the Agew-Awis. Large proportions of medicinal plants were found to have been used for the treatments of gastro-intestinal complaints (26%), skin diseases (24%) and malaria (22%). Relatively, higher numbers of informants agreed on the use of Croton macrostachyus against malaria (21%), Cynoglossum coeruleum against 'mich', illness mainly characterized by fever, headache and sweating (18%) and Zehneria scabra against malaria (13%). The species Croton Macrostachyus, Calpurnia aurea, Clematis hirsuta and Plumbago zeylanica were found to have the highest diversity of medicinal applications. We recommend that priority for further investigation should be given to medicinal plants with higher informant consensuses, as this could indicate their better efficacy. Measures are needed to conserve plants that are reported as scarce in the study area but still are only harvested from the wild.

                Author and article information

                Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
                Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
                Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                3 November 2011
                3 November 2011
                : 2012
                : 679373
                1Laboratory of Applied Ethnobotany, Department of Biology, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Avenida Dom Manoel de Medeiros s/n, Dois Irmãos, 52171-900 Recife, PE, Brazil
                2Natural Products Laboratory, Pharmacy Department, Federal University of Pernambuco, 50670-901 Recife, PE, Brazil
                3Ethnozoology, Conservation and Biodiversity Research Group, Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, 58109-753 Campina Grande, PB, Brazil
                Author notes
                *Cecília de Fátima Castelo Branco Rangel de Almeida: ccastelobranco@ 123456yahoo.com and
                *Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque: upa677@ 123456hotmail.com

                Academic Editor: Ana H. Ladio

                Copyright © 2012 Cecília de Fátima Castelo Branco Rangel de Almeida et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 23 June 2011
                : 17 August 2011
                : 23 August 2011
                Research Article

                Complementary & Alternative medicine
                Complementary & Alternative medicine


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