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Uses of medicinal plants by Haitian immigrants and their descendants in the Province of Camagüey, Cuba.

Volpato G, Godínez D, Beyra A, Barreto A - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2009)

Bottom Line: Cultural aspects related to traditional plant posology are addressed, as well as changes and adaptation of Haitian medicinal knowledge with emigration and integration over time.The rapid disappearance of Haitian migrants' traditional culture due to integration and urbanization suggests that unrecorded ethnomedicinal information may be lost forever.Given this, as well as the poor availability of ethnobotanical data relating to traditional Haitian medicine, there is an urgent need to record this knowledge.

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Affiliation: Department of Social Sciences, CERES Research School, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands. gabriele.volpato@wur.nl

ABSTRACT

Background: Haitian migrants played an important role shaping Cuban culture and traditional ethnobotanical knowledge. An ethnobotanical investigation was conducted to collect information on medicinal plant use by Haitian immigrants and their descendants in the Province of Camagüey, Cuba.

Methods: Information was obtained from semi-structured interviews with Haitian immigrants and their descendants, direct observations, and by reviewing reports of traditional Haitian medicine in the literature.

Results: Informants reported using 123 plant species belonging to 112 genera in 63 families. Haitian immigrants and their descendants mainly decoct or infuse aerial parts and ingest them, but medicinal baths are also relevant. Some 22 herbal mixtures are reported, including formulas for a preparation obtained using the fruit of Crescentia cujete. Cultural aspects related to traditional plant posology are addressed, as well as changes and adaptation of Haitian medicinal knowledge with emigration and integration over time.

Conclusion: The rapid disappearance of Haitian migrants' traditional culture due to integration and urbanization suggests that unrecorded ethnomedicinal information may be lost forever. Given this, as well as the poor availability of ethnobotanical data relating to traditional Haitian medicine, there is an urgent need to record this knowledge.

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Haitian with a dried fruit of Abelmoschus esculentus from his homegarden (G. Volpato).
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Figure 2: Haitian with a dried fruit of Abelmoschus esculentus from his homegarden (G. Volpato).

Mentions: For most Haitian migrants, given their poverty, there was no possibility to make trips back to Haiti to procure remedies that were not available in the new environment. Nevertheless, some culturally relevant products such as dried or fresh specimens of Artemisia absinthium and fruits and seeds of Abelmoschus esculentus were brought to Cuba upon migration (Figure 2). Once they found themselves in Cuba, the main strategies that Haitian migrants used to maintain their ethnomedicinal practices depended principally on the floristic similarity between Haiti and Cuba (i.e. most plants used in Haiti were also available in Cuba), and to the cultivation of medicinal plants in the new environment. The incorporation of local remedies into their own pharmacopoeia occurred as a consequence of factors such as cultural contacts and exchanges between Haitians and Cubans and of personal experimentation or imitation of local practices by migrants. Conversely, and to a lesser extent, Haitians contributed to what is today considered as traditional Cuban medicine by introducing into the dominant Cuban community certain specific ethnobotanical practices and uses of plants, as described also in Volpato et al. [14].


Uses of medicinal plants by Haitian immigrants and their descendants in the Province of Camagüey, Cuba.

Volpato G, Godínez D, Beyra A, Barreto A - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2009)

Haitian with a dried fruit of Abelmoschus esculentus from his homegarden (G. Volpato).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2690575&req=5

Figure 2: Haitian with a dried fruit of Abelmoschus esculentus from his homegarden (G. Volpato).
Mentions: For most Haitian migrants, given their poverty, there was no possibility to make trips back to Haiti to procure remedies that were not available in the new environment. Nevertheless, some culturally relevant products such as dried or fresh specimens of Artemisia absinthium and fruits and seeds of Abelmoschus esculentus were brought to Cuba upon migration (Figure 2). Once they found themselves in Cuba, the main strategies that Haitian migrants used to maintain their ethnomedicinal practices depended principally on the floristic similarity between Haiti and Cuba (i.e. most plants used in Haiti were also available in Cuba), and to the cultivation of medicinal plants in the new environment. The incorporation of local remedies into their own pharmacopoeia occurred as a consequence of factors such as cultural contacts and exchanges between Haitians and Cubans and of personal experimentation or imitation of local practices by migrants. Conversely, and to a lesser extent, Haitians contributed to what is today considered as traditional Cuban medicine by introducing into the dominant Cuban community certain specific ethnobotanical practices and uses of plants, as described also in Volpato et al. [14].

Bottom Line: Cultural aspects related to traditional plant posology are addressed, as well as changes and adaptation of Haitian medicinal knowledge with emigration and integration over time.The rapid disappearance of Haitian migrants' traditional culture due to integration and urbanization suggests that unrecorded ethnomedicinal information may be lost forever.Given this, as well as the poor availability of ethnobotanical data relating to traditional Haitian medicine, there is an urgent need to record this knowledge.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Social Sciences, CERES Research School, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands. gabriele.volpato@wur.nl

ABSTRACT

Background: Haitian migrants played an important role shaping Cuban culture and traditional ethnobotanical knowledge. An ethnobotanical investigation was conducted to collect information on medicinal plant use by Haitian immigrants and their descendants in the Province of Camagüey, Cuba.

Methods: Information was obtained from semi-structured interviews with Haitian immigrants and their descendants, direct observations, and by reviewing reports of traditional Haitian medicine in the literature.

Results: Informants reported using 123 plant species belonging to 112 genera in 63 families. Haitian immigrants and their descendants mainly decoct or infuse aerial parts and ingest them, but medicinal baths are also relevant. Some 22 herbal mixtures are reported, including formulas for a preparation obtained using the fruit of Crescentia cujete. Cultural aspects related to traditional plant posology are addressed, as well as changes and adaptation of Haitian medicinal knowledge with emigration and integration over time.

Conclusion: The rapid disappearance of Haitian migrants' traditional culture due to integration and urbanization suggests that unrecorded ethnomedicinal information may be lost forever. Given this, as well as the poor availability of ethnobotanical data relating to traditional Haitian medicine, there is an urgent need to record this knowledge.

Show MeSH