Plant mixtures are understudied in ethnobotanical research.
To investigate the importance of plant mixtures (remedies consisting of at least two
plants) in Dominican traditional medicine.
A Spanish language questionnaire was administered to 174 Dominicans living in New
York City (NYC) and 145 Dominicans living in the Dominican Republic (DR), including
lay persons (who self-medicate with plants) and specialists (traditional healers).
Plants were identified through specimens purchased in NYC botánica shops and Latino
grocery shops, and from voucher collections.
The percentage of mixtures as compared to single plants in plant use reports varied
between 32 and 41%, depending on the geographic location (NYC or DR) and participant
status (lay person or specialist). Respiratory conditions, reproductive health and
genitourinary conditions were the main categories for which Dominicans use plant mixtures.
Lay persons reported significantly more mixtures prepared as teas, mainly used in
NYC to treat respiratory conditions. Specialists mentioned significantly more botellas
(bottled herbal mixtures), used most frequently in the DR to treat reproductive health
and genitourinary conditions. Cluster analysis demonstrated that different plant species
are used to treat respiratory conditions as compared to reproductive health and genitourinary
conditions. Interview participants believed that combining plants in mixtures increases
their potency and versatility as medicines.
The present study demonstrates the importance and complexity of plant mixtures in
Dominican traditional medicine and the variation in its practices influenced by migration
from the DR to NYC, shedding new light on the foundations of a particular ethnomedical
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