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      The herbal market of Cyprus: traditional links and cultural exchanges.

      Journal of Ethnopharmacology

      Consensus, Cyprus, Data Collection, Ethnobotany, Europe, Humans, Medicine, Traditional, Middle East, Phytotherapy, Plant Preparations, pharmacology, Questionnaires

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          Abstract

          Directive 2004/24/EC sets the frame for the herbal trade in Europe emphasizing the need of the botanical characterization of herbal substances intended for human consumption. Thus, the aim of the present study is to survey and identify taxonomically the herbs sold in the market of Cyprus and to document and evaluate their uses. Moreover, the relationship of the nowadays market to the local ethnobotanical tradition, as well as to other eastern Mediterranean markets (i.e. Greece, Israel, Jordan, Turkey) is also traced. Herbs sold in 15 shops scattered in three major cities of Cyprus were surveyed. Data concerning their uses were collected through interviews with the herbal traders and studied quantitatively by the use of ethnobotanical indices (informant consensus factor, use value, relative importance value, fidelity level) and statistical tests (Spearman's correlation coefficient, Kruskal-Wallis test, paired-sample t-test). Comparisons to published information concerning other eastern Mediterranean markets were performed by multivariate tests (Ward's hierarchical cluster). A total number of 57 taxa were surveyed from 15 selected shops, out of which 32 are cultivated, 14 are collected from the wild and 11 are imported. The highest Informant Consensus Factors were presented by the neuropsychiatric (0.78), gastrointestinal (0.76) and respiratory ailments (0.71). The comparison of our results to published information has shown that 40 of the traded taxa have also been used traditionally, while a considerable number of herbs are also found in the markets of Greece and Turkey (35 and 29 taxa, respectively); a lower number of the taxa traded, is found in the markets of the Middle East. The nowadays herbal trade in Cyprus is still linked to the local ethnobotanical legacy. Moreover the similarities between the Cypriot herbal market and the markets of Greece and Turkey are more prominent than those between Cyprus and the Middle East, reflecting the cultural exchanges among the three neighbouring countries. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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          Journal
          20920568
          10.1016/j.jep.2010.09.034

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