KNOX BIOL 320 - Ethnopharmacology (30 pages)

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Ethnopharmacology



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Ethnopharmacology

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Pages:
30
School:
Knox College
Course:
Biol 320 - Ethnobotany
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Ethnopharmacology Nina Etkin Ph D collecting medicinal plants Ethnopharmacology Ethnopharmacology is the study of the medicinal use of plants by indigenous peoples Ancient archaeological records of medicinal plants 3500 BCE India had an extensive pharmacopoeia Much of that knowledge is still used as part of the Ayurveda medical system 2250 BCE Egypt and Babylon were trading medicinal plants 900 BCE Archaeological records demonstrate the use of medicinal and psychoactive plants in the New World 330 BCE One of the Theophrastus s students Alexander the Great sent medicinal plants from Asia back to Greece for cultivation 2000 YA The first written Chinese records although use is probably as ancient as India s Xochipilli God of Inebriating Plants Mayan Mushroom Stone Use of Medicinal Plants The use of medicinal plants usually was passed down from generation to generation via two separate systems First was the formal system of medicine men and women They often functioned as shamans as people with a path to another world and they used psychoactive plants to make that journey They used sacred plants with a resident spirit to communicate with the spirit world via visions and other hallucinations Tamu shamans Nepal Mentawai shaman Siberut Island Indonesia Kim Kumhwa Shaman in Korea Mike Kiyaani Navajo healer and former World War II code talker Rick Two Dogs Pine Ridge Lakota healer Shoefoot Yanomami shaman and tribal leader Photographed on visit to New York Tek ic last of theTlingit shaman About 1890 Alaska Darhad shamans Mongolia Use of Medicinal Plants The second system was more informal and based on a general familiarity with medicinal plants This knowledge was amassed via experimentation over many generations and was handed down orally from person to person often woman to woman Collecting Medicinal Plants in Yucatan Nicholas Culpeper 1616 1654 Culpeper s Influence on Homeopathy Grave s patent medicine a Laudanum product Strychnos toxifera source of D tubocurarine Mexican yam Dioscorea villosa Source of cortisone Indian snakeroot Rauwolfia serpentina Source of resperine Madagascar periwinkle Catharanthus roseus Source of vincristine White Hellebore Veratrum album Source of hypotensive alkaloids Medicinal Plants in the Amazonian Basin 3 million square miles in size supports the world s largest rainforest with an estimated 80 000 species of plants about 15 of the world s species The northwest section of the Colombian Amazon is home to 70 000 Indians in 50 ethnic groups that speak many languages from 12 linguistic families They have been recorded to use in medicines almost 1600 plants from 596 genera in 145 families How to find medicinal plants There are typically two approaches used a random search or a targeted search In a random search a broad net is cast and plants from a specific region are collected and screened for potential medicinal properties without regard to the taxonomic status ethnobotanical use or any other quality random searches have had consistently low success rates though the National Cancer Institute discovered taxol produced from the bark of the Pacific yew tree an important drug used to treat breast and ovarian cancer during a random screen Targeted Search Targeted selections can be of several types Phylogenetic surveys close relatives of plants known to produce useful compounds are collected such searches are likely to produce positive results Ecological surveys plants that live in particular habitats or which have particular characteristics such as immunity to predation by insects or molluscs are selected Ethnobotanical surveys plants used by indigenous peoples in traditional medicine are selected for further research and study this has often resulted in positive results Ethnobotanical Survey The success of ethnobotanical surveys stems from two components of the survey 1 there is a cultural prescreening in which indigenous people experiment with plants in their environment often over hundreds of generations and identify those that are bioactive obviously this greatly increases the chances of finding useful plants 2 the ethnobotanist will employ a screening process to determine which plants warrant further study Increasing the success rate of searches Ethnobotanists tend to focus their surveys on cultures with three main characteristics 1 A cultural mechanism for the accurate transmission of ethnopharmacological knowledge from generation to generation 2 Live in a floristically diverse environment 3 Continuity of residence in the area over many generations What kinds of drugs remain or are likely to be discovered Indigenous therapies focus on GI complaints inflammation skin aliments and ob gyn disorders while western medicine focuses on disorders of the cardiovascular and nervous systems cancers and microbial aliments why the differences 1 Perceived Peril 2 Saliency 3 Toxicity 4 Economic incentives


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