An ethnopharmacological survey of the traditional medicine utilized in the community of Porvenir, Bajo Paraguá Indian Reservation, Bolivia

Zsanett Hajdu, J. Hohmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ethnopharmacological relevance: Porvenir is a semi-isolated Indian community in the Bajo Paraguá Indian Reservation in Bolivian Amazon, one of the two communities of people from the Guarasug'we indigenous nation now close to extinction. The aim of our study was the collection of data on the traditional medicine utilized in the community, and to identify new subjects for further investigation by comparison of the folk-medicinal use with the available scientific literature data. Materials and methods: Field work was conducted for 5 months, which included participant observation, semi-structured interviews with 16 individuals, and the collection of voucher specimens for botanical identification. The knowledge of the inhabitants relating to medicinal plants was analysed by means of the modified method of Gentry and Phillips (1993a,b), which assesses the frequency and the variety of use of plants. Scientific data were gathered on selected species, and the correlations of the traditional uses of the herbs with scientific evidence were assessed. Results: The lifestyle and beliefs in Porvenir, botanical data on the plants used, the frequency and variety of medicinal use, diseases that occur and their possible treatment, and methods of plant application are discussed in detail. 145 plant species were registered with 451 recorded uses. The majority of the plants were utilized to treat gastrointestinal complaints (60 species), followed by diseases of the central nervous system, pain and fever (37 species), diseases of the genitourinary tract (35 species), dermatological disorders (34 species) and diseases of the respiratory system (32 species). One fifth of the species are also applied in traditional medicine in other areas of Bolivia or in other countries. The majority of the 145 species used in the community have not been extensively investigated from phytochemical and pharmacological aspects. There are no data in the scientific literature on one fifth of the species. Conclusions: The medicine applied in Porvenir and the contemporary knowledge of the people interviewed concerning plants reflect the local traditions and their changes very well, clearly demonstrating the influence exerted by conventional medicine, and how the ancestral knowledge is progressively being forgotten. The present ethnopharmacological survey indicates that 24 species that are frequently and consistently used in the community of Porvenir are perspective for further research, as their chemistry and pharmacology have not been published to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-857
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Volume139
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2012

Fingerprint

Bolivia
Traditional Medicine
Literature
Medicine
Pharmacology
Specimen Handling
Central Nervous System Diseases
Phytochemicals
Medicinal Plants
Respiratory System
Surveys and Questionnaires
Life Style
Fever
Observation
Interviews
Pain
Research

Keywords

  • Amazonian traditional medicine
  • Bolivia
  • Ethnobotany
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Fieldwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery

Cite this

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title = "An ethnopharmacological survey of the traditional medicine utilized in the community of Porvenir, Bajo Paragu{\'a} Indian Reservation, Bolivia",
abstract = "Ethnopharmacological relevance: Porvenir is a semi-isolated Indian community in the Bajo Paragu{\'a} Indian Reservation in Bolivian Amazon, one of the two communities of people from the Guarasug'we indigenous nation now close to extinction. The aim of our study was the collection of data on the traditional medicine utilized in the community, and to identify new subjects for further investigation by comparison of the folk-medicinal use with the available scientific literature data. Materials and methods: Field work was conducted for 5 months, which included participant observation, semi-structured interviews with 16 individuals, and the collection of voucher specimens for botanical identification. The knowledge of the inhabitants relating to medicinal plants was analysed by means of the modified method of Gentry and Phillips (1993a,b), which assesses the frequency and the variety of use of plants. Scientific data were gathered on selected species, and the correlations of the traditional uses of the herbs with scientific evidence were assessed. Results: The lifestyle and beliefs in Porvenir, botanical data on the plants used, the frequency and variety of medicinal use, diseases that occur and their possible treatment, and methods of plant application are discussed in detail. 145 plant species were registered with 451 recorded uses. The majority of the plants were utilized to treat gastrointestinal complaints (60 species), followed by diseases of the central nervous system, pain and fever (37 species), diseases of the genitourinary tract (35 species), dermatological disorders (34 species) and diseases of the respiratory system (32 species). One fifth of the species are also applied in traditional medicine in other areas of Bolivia or in other countries. The majority of the 145 species used in the community have not been extensively investigated from phytochemical and pharmacological aspects. There are no data in the scientific literature on one fifth of the species. Conclusions: The medicine applied in Porvenir and the contemporary knowledge of the people interviewed concerning plants reflect the local traditions and their changes very well, clearly demonstrating the influence exerted by conventional medicine, and how the ancestral knowledge is progressively being forgotten. The present ethnopharmacological survey indicates that 24 species that are frequently and consistently used in the community of Porvenir are perspective for further research, as their chemistry and pharmacology have not been published to date.",
keywords = "Amazonian traditional medicine, Bolivia, Ethnobotany, Ethnopharmacology, Fieldwork",
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