Medicinal plants may be a key to understanding other cultures

phys.org | 2/13/2014 | Staff
princia (Posted by) Level 3
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A new methodology for comparing herbal medicine across societies can also be used to understand the transfer of cultural traditions.

"I did a thorough documentation of the natural remedies, mostly plants, used by the Amazigh people in the High Atlas. Then, I studied how modernization in its various forms influences the use of plants," explains Irene Teixidor-Toneu, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Change - Use - Substances - People - Doctor

"To summarize, there is a change in the use of substances, since people are open to medication prescribed by the doctor. At the same time, traditional knowledge and beliefs concerning plant use are kept alive, although traditions also change over time."

Having spent almost a year in the Moroccan High Atlas mountains, ethnobotanist Irene Teixidor-Toneu finished her Ph.D. on the use of medicinal plants in Amazigh (Berber) villages.

Article - Methodology - October - Issue - Nature

Her scientific article, describing the methodology, was published in the October issue of the journal Nature Plants. She is currently working at the Natural History Museum in Oslo, where her methods will be applied to map the use of medicinal plants in Scandinavia from Viking times until today, in a project that was launched in November 2018.

Modern or traditional medicine?

PhD - Dissertation - Transmission - Knowledge - Plants

Her Ph.D. dissertation was devoted to the transmission of knowledge about medicinal plants used by a defined group of people.These were some of the basic questions Teixidor-Toneu studied:

Why are certain plants selected for medical use?

How are they used?

How does usage change over time?

Pharmacist - Explanation - Plants - Phytochemicals - Phytochemicals

If you were to ask a pharmacist, one obvious explanation to why certain plants are used,is that they contain phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds developed in order help plants thrive or fight competitors, predators, or pathogens. Many phytochemicals have therapeutic effects.

However, there is always a combination of reasons why a plant is selected for use, according to Teixidor-Toneu.

Ethnobiology - Study - Cultures

Ethnobiology is defined as the interdisciplinary study of how human cultures interact with...
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