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From cumulative cultural transmission to evidence-based medicine: evolution of medicinal plant knowledge in Southern Italy.

Leonti M, Staub PO, Cabras S, Castellanos ME, Casu L - Front Pharmacol (2015)

Bottom Line: Plant-use combinations are treated as transmissible cultural traits (or "memes"), which in analogy to the biological evolution of genetic traits, are subjected to mutation and selection.Our results suggest that until today ancient scripts have exerted a strong influence on the use of herbal medicine.We conclude that the repeated empirical testing and scientific study of health care claims is guiding and shaping the selection of efficacious treatments and evidence-based herbal medicine.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari Cagliari, Italy.

ABSTRACT
In Mediterranean cultures written records of medicinal plant use have a long tradition. This written record contributed to building a consensus about what was perceived to be an efficacious pharmacopeia. Passed down through millennia, these scripts have transmitted knowledge about plant uses, with high fidelity, to scholars and laypersons alike. Herbal medicine's importance and the long-standing written record call for a better understanding of the mechanisms influencing the transmission of contemporary medicinal plant knowledge. Here we contextualize herbal medicine within evolutionary medicine and cultural evolution. Cumulative knowledge transmission is approached by estimating the causal effect of two seminal scripts about materia medica written by Dioscorides and Galen, two classical Greco-Roman physicians, on today's medicinal plant use in the Southern Italian regions of Campania, Sardinia, and Sicily. Plant-use combinations are treated as transmissible cultural traits (or "memes"), which in analogy to the biological evolution of genetic traits, are subjected to mutation and selection. Our results suggest that until today ancient scripts have exerted a strong influence on the use of herbal medicine. We conclude that the repeated empirical testing and scientific study of health care claims is guiding and shaping the selection of efficacious treatments and evidence-based herbal medicine.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Map of Sicily indicating considered field studies addressing popular medicinal plant use. 1, Mistretta; Messina (Lentini and Raimondo, 1990); 2, Mussomeli; Caltanissetta (Amico and Sorge, 1997); 3, Cesarò; Messina (Barbagallo et al., 1979); 4, Erice; Trapani (Lentini and Aleo, 1991); 5, Pantelleria; Trapani (Galt and Galt, 1978); 6, Madonie, Palermo (Raimondo and Lentini, 1990); 7, Eolie, Messina (Lentini et al., 1995); 8, Pelagie, Agrigento (Lentini et al., 1996); 9, Trapani (Lentini, 1987); 10, Mazara del Vallo; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1987–1988); 11, Egadi; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1997); 12, Riserva Naturale Dello Zingaro; Trapani (Lentini and Mazzola, 1998); 13, Ustica; Palermo (Lentini et al., 1994); 14, Bivona, Agrigento (Catanzaro, 1970); 15, Sant'Angelo Muxaro, Agrigento (Lentini, 1996); 16, Bronte, Catania (Arcidiacono et al., 1999); 17, Monterosso Almo, Ragusa (Napoli and Giglio, 2002); 18, Mezzojuso, Palermo (Ilardi and Raimondo, 1992); 19, Sicilia centro-orientale (Barbagallo et al., 2004); 20, Alcara Li Fusi e Militello Rosmarino, Messina (Arcidiacono et al., 2007); 21, Madonie Regional Park (Leto et al., 2013).
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Figure 3: Map of Sicily indicating considered field studies addressing popular medicinal plant use. 1, Mistretta; Messina (Lentini and Raimondo, 1990); 2, Mussomeli; Caltanissetta (Amico and Sorge, 1997); 3, Cesarò; Messina (Barbagallo et al., 1979); 4, Erice; Trapani (Lentini and Aleo, 1991); 5, Pantelleria; Trapani (Galt and Galt, 1978); 6, Madonie, Palermo (Raimondo and Lentini, 1990); 7, Eolie, Messina (Lentini et al., 1995); 8, Pelagie, Agrigento (Lentini et al., 1996); 9, Trapani (Lentini, 1987); 10, Mazara del Vallo; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1987–1988); 11, Egadi; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1997); 12, Riserva Naturale Dello Zingaro; Trapani (Lentini and Mazzola, 1998); 13, Ustica; Palermo (Lentini et al., 1994); 14, Bivona, Agrigento (Catanzaro, 1970); 15, Sant'Angelo Muxaro, Agrigento (Lentini, 1996); 16, Bronte, Catania (Arcidiacono et al., 1999); 17, Monterosso Almo, Ragusa (Napoli and Giglio, 2002); 18, Mezzojuso, Palermo (Ilardi and Raimondo, 1992); 19, Sicilia centro-orientale (Barbagallo et al., 2004); 20, Alcara Li Fusi e Militello Rosmarino, Messina (Arcidiacono et al., 2007); 21, Madonie Regional Park (Leto et al., 2013).

Mentions: Data on contemporary medicinal plant use were compiled from 52 ethnobotanical studies on local medicinal plant use in the Italian regions of Campania (nc = 11 study sites, including 1 study from the adjacent Basilicata), Sardinia (ns = 20 study sites) and Sicily (nsi = 21 study sites) published between 1970 and 2013 (Figures 1–3; Supplementary Material, Supplementary Tables S1–S3). The taxa concertedly mentioned in Dioscorides' DMM (ex Matthioli, 1568), Galen's DSMF (1561), and in the contemporary studies conducted in Campania, Sardinia and Sicily, are included in this analysis. Closely related plant species used interchangeably and forming use-complexes generally perceived as ethnotaxa, are treated as one taxon (e.g., Anemone spp. includes A. coronaria L., A. hortensis L., and A. nemorosa L.). Species synonymies were resolved following theplantlist.org (The Plant List 1.1). For a complete list of species considered see Supplementary Material, Supplementary Table S4.


From cumulative cultural transmission to evidence-based medicine: evolution of medicinal plant knowledge in Southern Italy.

Leonti M, Staub PO, Cabras S, Castellanos ME, Casu L - Front Pharmacol (2015)

Map of Sicily indicating considered field studies addressing popular medicinal plant use. 1, Mistretta; Messina (Lentini and Raimondo, 1990); 2, Mussomeli; Caltanissetta (Amico and Sorge, 1997); 3, Cesarò; Messina (Barbagallo et al., 1979); 4, Erice; Trapani (Lentini and Aleo, 1991); 5, Pantelleria; Trapani (Galt and Galt, 1978); 6, Madonie, Palermo (Raimondo and Lentini, 1990); 7, Eolie, Messina (Lentini et al., 1995); 8, Pelagie, Agrigento (Lentini et al., 1996); 9, Trapani (Lentini, 1987); 10, Mazara del Vallo; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1987–1988); 11, Egadi; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1997); 12, Riserva Naturale Dello Zingaro; Trapani (Lentini and Mazzola, 1998); 13, Ustica; Palermo (Lentini et al., 1994); 14, Bivona, Agrigento (Catanzaro, 1970); 15, Sant'Angelo Muxaro, Agrigento (Lentini, 1996); 16, Bronte, Catania (Arcidiacono et al., 1999); 17, Monterosso Almo, Ragusa (Napoli and Giglio, 2002); 18, Mezzojuso, Palermo (Ilardi and Raimondo, 1992); 19, Sicilia centro-orientale (Barbagallo et al., 2004); 20, Alcara Li Fusi e Militello Rosmarino, Messina (Arcidiacono et al., 2007); 21, Madonie Regional Park (Leto et al., 2013).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4588697&req=5

Figure 3: Map of Sicily indicating considered field studies addressing popular medicinal plant use. 1, Mistretta; Messina (Lentini and Raimondo, 1990); 2, Mussomeli; Caltanissetta (Amico and Sorge, 1997); 3, Cesarò; Messina (Barbagallo et al., 1979); 4, Erice; Trapani (Lentini and Aleo, 1991); 5, Pantelleria; Trapani (Galt and Galt, 1978); 6, Madonie, Palermo (Raimondo and Lentini, 1990); 7, Eolie, Messina (Lentini et al., 1995); 8, Pelagie, Agrigento (Lentini et al., 1996); 9, Trapani (Lentini, 1987); 10, Mazara del Vallo; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1987–1988); 11, Egadi; Trapani (Lentini et al., 1997); 12, Riserva Naturale Dello Zingaro; Trapani (Lentini and Mazzola, 1998); 13, Ustica; Palermo (Lentini et al., 1994); 14, Bivona, Agrigento (Catanzaro, 1970); 15, Sant'Angelo Muxaro, Agrigento (Lentini, 1996); 16, Bronte, Catania (Arcidiacono et al., 1999); 17, Monterosso Almo, Ragusa (Napoli and Giglio, 2002); 18, Mezzojuso, Palermo (Ilardi and Raimondo, 1992); 19, Sicilia centro-orientale (Barbagallo et al., 2004); 20, Alcara Li Fusi e Militello Rosmarino, Messina (Arcidiacono et al., 2007); 21, Madonie Regional Park (Leto et al., 2013).
Mentions: Data on contemporary medicinal plant use were compiled from 52 ethnobotanical studies on local medicinal plant use in the Italian regions of Campania (nc = 11 study sites, including 1 study from the adjacent Basilicata), Sardinia (ns = 20 study sites) and Sicily (nsi = 21 study sites) published between 1970 and 2013 (Figures 1–3; Supplementary Material, Supplementary Tables S1–S3). The taxa concertedly mentioned in Dioscorides' DMM (ex Matthioli, 1568), Galen's DSMF (1561), and in the contemporary studies conducted in Campania, Sardinia and Sicily, are included in this analysis. Closely related plant species used interchangeably and forming use-complexes generally perceived as ethnotaxa, are treated as one taxon (e.g., Anemone spp. includes A. coronaria L., A. hortensis L., and A. nemorosa L.). Species synonymies were resolved following theplantlist.org (The Plant List 1.1). For a complete list of species considered see Supplementary Material, Supplementary Table S4.

Bottom Line: Plant-use combinations are treated as transmissible cultural traits (or "memes"), which in analogy to the biological evolution of genetic traits, are subjected to mutation and selection.Our results suggest that until today ancient scripts have exerted a strong influence on the use of herbal medicine.We conclude that the repeated empirical testing and scientific study of health care claims is guiding and shaping the selection of efficacious treatments and evidence-based herbal medicine.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari Cagliari, Italy.

ABSTRACT
In Mediterranean cultures written records of medicinal plant use have a long tradition. This written record contributed to building a consensus about what was perceived to be an efficacious pharmacopeia. Passed down through millennia, these scripts have transmitted knowledge about plant uses, with high fidelity, to scholars and laypersons alike. Herbal medicine's importance and the long-standing written record call for a better understanding of the mechanisms influencing the transmission of contemporary medicinal plant knowledge. Here we contextualize herbal medicine within evolutionary medicine and cultural evolution. Cumulative knowledge transmission is approached by estimating the causal effect of two seminal scripts about materia medica written by Dioscorides and Galen, two classical Greco-Roman physicians, on today's medicinal plant use in the Southern Italian regions of Campania, Sardinia, and Sicily. Plant-use combinations are treated as transmissible cultural traits (or "memes"), which in analogy to the biological evolution of genetic traits, are subjected to mutation and selection. Our results suggest that until today ancient scripts have exerted a strong influence on the use of herbal medicine. We conclude that the repeated empirical testing and scientific study of health care claims is guiding and shaping the selection of efficacious treatments and evidence-based herbal medicine.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus