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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

Overall posterior distribution of the causal effect of Dioscorides and Galen on the contemporary plant use traits over all 87 taxa, 11 uses-categories and for all three regions together. The plot shows the mean effect (point) along with the 95% credible interval.
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Figure 5: Overall posterior distribution of the causal effect of Dioscorides and Galen on the contemporary plant use traits over all 87 taxa, 11 uses-categories and for all three regions together. The plot shows the mean effect (point) along with the 95% credible interval.

Mentions: The estimation of the causal effect is measured as the increment in the probability that a plant taxon is used in contemporary local herbal medicine for a specific use due to Dioscorides or Galen accounting for the confounding effects. The posterior distribution of the causal effect of the two authors for the 87 plant taxa over all three South Italian regions together is summarized in Figure 5. The mean effect α (point) along with its 95% credible intervals are reported. These intervals, although located at larger values, are compatible with the results obtained in our previous study (Leonti et al., 2010), and a causal effect of the two authors almost certainly exists for all three regions.


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)

Overall posterior distribution of the causal effect of Dioscorides and Galen on the contemporary plant use traits over all 87 taxa, 11 uses-categories and for all three regions together. The plot shows the mean effect (point) along with the 95% credible interval.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 5: Overall posterior distribution of the causal effect of Dioscorides and Galen on the contemporary plant use traits over all 87 taxa, 11 uses-categories and for all three regions together. The plot shows the mean effect (point) along with the 95% credible interval.
Mentions: The estimation of the causal effect is measured as the increment in the probability that a plant taxon is used in contemporary local herbal medicine for a specific use due to Dioscorides or Galen accounting for the confounding effects. The posterior distribution of the causal effect of the two authors for the 87 plant taxa over all three South Italian regions together is summarized in Figure 5. The mean effect α (point) along with its 95% credible intervals are reported. These intervals, although located at larger values, are compatible with the results obtained in our previous study (Leonti et al., 2010), and a causal effect of the two authors almost certainly exists for all three regions.

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