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Asháninka medicinal plants: a case study from the native community of Bajo Quimiriki, Junín, Peru

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-6-21

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Abstract:

Fieldwork was conducted between July and September 2007. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, collection of medicinal plants in the homegardens, forest walks, a walk along the river banks, participant observation, informal conversation, cross check through voucher specimens and a focus group interview with children.Four-hundred and two medicinal plants, mainly herbs, were indicated by the informants. The most important families in terms of taxa were Asteraceae, Araceae, Rubiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Solanaceae and Piperaceae. Eighty-four percent of the medicinal plants were wild and 63% were collected from the forest. Exotics accounted to only 2% of the medicinal plants. Problems related to the dermal system, digestive system, and cultural belief system represented 57% of all the medicinal applications. Some traditional healers received non-indigenous customers, using their knowledge as a source of income. Age and gender were significantly correlated to medicinal plant knowledge. Children knew the medicinal plants almost exclusively by their Spanish names. Sixteen percent of the medicinal plants found in this community were also reported among the Yanesha of the Pasco Region.Despite the vicinity to a city, knowledge on medicinal plants and cultural beliefs are still abundant in this Asháninka Native Community and the medicinal plants are still available in the surroundings. Nevertheless, the use of Spanish names for the medicinal plants and the shift of healing practices towards a source of income with mainly non-indigenous customers, are signs of acculturation. Future studies on quantification of the use of medicinal plants, dynamics of transmission of ethno-medicinal knowledge to the young generations and comparison with available pharmacological data on the most promising medicinal plants are suggested.Peru is one of the twelve most biodiversity rich, or 'mega-diverse', countries of the world. Its combination of latitude and topography creates nume

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