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Shadows of the colonial past--diverging plant use in Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador.

Bussmann RW, Sharon D - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2009)

Bottom Line: Most of the plants used (83%) were native to Peru and Ecuador.The most common applications included the ingestion of herb decoctions or the application of plant material as poultices.Although about 50% of the plants in use in the colonial period have disappeared from the popular pharmacopoeia, the overall number of plant species used medicinally has increased in Northern Peru, while Southern Ecuador shows a decline of plant knowledge since colonial times.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: William L, Brown Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA. rainer.bussmann@mobot.org

ABSTRACT
This paper examines the traditional use of medicinal plants in Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador, with special focus on the Departments of Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca, and San Martin, and in Loja province, with special focus on the development since the early colonial period. Northern Peru represents the locus of the old Central Andean "Health Axis." The roots of traditional healing practices in this region go as far back as the Cupisnique culture early in the first millennium BC. Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador share the same cultural context and flora but show striking differences in plant use and traditional knowledge. Two hundred fifteen plant species used for medicinal purposes in Ecuador and 510 plant species used for medicinal purposes in Peru were collected, identified,. and their vernacular names, traditional uses, and applications recorded. This number of species indicates that the healers, market vendors, and members of the public interviewed in Peru still have a very high knowledge of plants in their surroundings, which can be seen as a reflection of the knowledge of the population in general. In Ecuador much of the original plant knowledge has already been lost. In Peru, 433 (85%) were Dicotyledons, 46 (9%) Monocotyledons, 21 (4%) Pteridophytes, and 5 (1%) Gymnosperms. Three species of Giartina (Algae) and one species of the Lichen genus Siphula were used. The families best represented were Asteraceae with 69 species, Fabaceae (35), Lamiaceae (25), and Solanaceae (21). Euphorbiaceae had 12 species, and Poaceae and Apiaceae each accounted for 11 species. In Ecuador the families best represented were Asteraceae (32 species), Euphorbiaceae, Lamiaceae, and Solanaceae (11 species each), and Apiaceae, Fabaceae, Lycopodiaceae (9 species each). One hundred eighty-two (85%) of the species used were Dicotyledons, 20 Monocotyledons (9.3%), 12 ferns (5.5%), and one unidentified lichen was used. Most of the plants used (83%) were native to Peru and Ecuador. Fresh plants, often collected wild, were used in two thirds of all cases in Peru, but in almost 95% of the cases in Ecuador. The most common applications included the ingestion of herb decoctions or the application of plant material as poultices. Although about 50% of the plants in use in the colonial period have disappeared from the popular pharmacopoeia, the overall number of plant species used medicinally has increased in Northern Peru, while Southern Ecuador shows a decline of plant knowledge since colonial times.

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Traditional Peruvian mesa.
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Figure 4: Traditional Peruvian mesa.

Mentions: Healing altars (mesas) in Northern Peru often follow the old tradition by including a large variety of "power objects," frequently with a "pagan" background. Objects such as seashells, pre-Columbian ceramics, staffs, stones, etc. are very common on Peruvian mesas and are blended with Christian symbols such as crosses and images of saints (Figs. 3, 4 &5). Treatments are most often performed in the homes of the individual healers, who normally have their mesas set up in their backyards. Healers also treat patients at altars and consultation chambers (consultorios) in their homes, at sacred sites in the countryside, or at sacred lagoons high up in the mountains. A curing ceremony normally involves purification of the patient by orally spraying blessed and enchanted herbal extracts on the whole body to fend off evil spirits and by "Spiritual Flowerings" (baños de florecimiento). In most cases, the cleansing of the patients involves drinking boiled San Pedro juice and the nasal ingestion of tobacco juice and perfumes. Sometimes extracts of Jimson weed (Datura ferox), Brugmansia spp., and tobacco are also used to purify the patients. While the incantations used by healers during their curing sessions include Christian components (e.g., the invocation of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and any number of saints), references to Andean cosmology (e.g., to the apus or the spirits of the mountains) are very common. The use of guinea pigs as diagnostic instruments is standard in Northern Peru [2,80-83].


Shadows of the colonial past--diverging plant use in Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador.

Bussmann RW, Sharon D - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2009)

Traditional Peruvian mesa.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2655273&req=5

Figure 4: Traditional Peruvian mesa.
Mentions: Healing altars (mesas) in Northern Peru often follow the old tradition by including a large variety of "power objects," frequently with a "pagan" background. Objects such as seashells, pre-Columbian ceramics, staffs, stones, etc. are very common on Peruvian mesas and are blended with Christian symbols such as crosses and images of saints (Figs. 3, 4 &5). Treatments are most often performed in the homes of the individual healers, who normally have their mesas set up in their backyards. Healers also treat patients at altars and consultation chambers (consultorios) in their homes, at sacred sites in the countryside, or at sacred lagoons high up in the mountains. A curing ceremony normally involves purification of the patient by orally spraying blessed and enchanted herbal extracts on the whole body to fend off evil spirits and by "Spiritual Flowerings" (baños de florecimiento). In most cases, the cleansing of the patients involves drinking boiled San Pedro juice and the nasal ingestion of tobacco juice and perfumes. Sometimes extracts of Jimson weed (Datura ferox), Brugmansia spp., and tobacco are also used to purify the patients. While the incantations used by healers during their curing sessions include Christian components (e.g., the invocation of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and any number of saints), references to Andean cosmology (e.g., to the apus or the spirits of the mountains) are very common. The use of guinea pigs as diagnostic instruments is standard in Northern Peru [2,80-83].

Bottom Line: Most of the plants used (83%) were native to Peru and Ecuador.The most common applications included the ingestion of herb decoctions or the application of plant material as poultices.Although about 50% of the plants in use in the colonial period have disappeared from the popular pharmacopoeia, the overall number of plant species used medicinally has increased in Northern Peru, while Southern Ecuador shows a decline of plant knowledge since colonial times.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: William L, Brown Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA. rainer.bussmann@mobot.org

ABSTRACT
This paper examines the traditional use of medicinal plants in Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador, with special focus on the Departments of Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca, and San Martin, and in Loja province, with special focus on the development since the early colonial period. Northern Peru represents the locus of the old Central Andean "Health Axis." The roots of traditional healing practices in this region go as far back as the Cupisnique culture early in the first millennium BC. Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador share the same cultural context and flora but show striking differences in plant use and traditional knowledge. Two hundred fifteen plant species used for medicinal purposes in Ecuador and 510 plant species used for medicinal purposes in Peru were collected, identified,. and their vernacular names, traditional uses, and applications recorded. This number of species indicates that the healers, market vendors, and members of the public interviewed in Peru still have a very high knowledge of plants in their surroundings, which can be seen as a reflection of the knowledge of the population in general. In Ecuador much of the original plant knowledge has already been lost. In Peru, 433 (85%) were Dicotyledons, 46 (9%) Monocotyledons, 21 (4%) Pteridophytes, and 5 (1%) Gymnosperms. Three species of Giartina (Algae) and one species of the Lichen genus Siphula were used. The families best represented were Asteraceae with 69 species, Fabaceae (35), Lamiaceae (25), and Solanaceae (21). Euphorbiaceae had 12 species, and Poaceae and Apiaceae each accounted for 11 species. In Ecuador the families best represented were Asteraceae (32 species), Euphorbiaceae, Lamiaceae, and Solanaceae (11 species each), and Apiaceae, Fabaceae, Lycopodiaceae (9 species each). One hundred eighty-two (85%) of the species used were Dicotyledons, 20 Monocotyledons (9.3%), 12 ferns (5.5%), and one unidentified lichen was used. Most of the plants used (83%) were native to Peru and Ecuador. Fresh plants, often collected wild, were used in two thirds of all cases in Peru, but in almost 95% of the cases in Ecuador. The most common applications included the ingestion of herb decoctions or the application of plant material as poultices. Although about 50% of the plants in use in the colonial period have disappeared from the popular pharmacopoeia, the overall number of plant species used medicinally has increased in Northern Peru, while Southern Ecuador shows a decline of plant knowledge since colonial times.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus