Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia]]> vol. 24 num. 2 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[The modern pharmacognosy and the ethnopharmacological approach on natural products research]]> <![CDATA[Ethnopharmacology: quo vadis? Challenges for the future]]> It is well-known that humans have used medicinal plants for millennia, but as a defined field of scientific research called ethnopharmacology, it has a relatively short history. It is linked to the development of pharmacology in the 19th century (as exemplified in the work of Claude Bernard linking the explorers' observations on traditional uses of medicines and toxins) and to fascination with psychoactive drugs in the 1960s. This fascination gave rise to what we now call ethnopharmacology, a term first used as recently as 1967. With thousands of ethnopharmacological articles published each year now, the field has expanded greatly. It nowadays covers a wide range of topics based on the anthropological, historical and other socio-cultural studies of local and traditional plants, fungi and animals; as well as the biological and clinical studies of resources used as medicines, toxins, foods, among other applications. It is one of the few fields in science truly transdisciplinary and it is a key bridge between socio-cultural and the natural/medical sciences. More importantly, ethnopharmacological research is crucial for the improvement of livelihood, health and wellbeing of humans. <![CDATA[Sampling problems in Brazilian research: a critical evaluation of studies on medicinal plants]]> This work compiled Brazilian articles regarding medicinal plant use by local communities in order to analyze the most common sampling problems and if research characteristics can influence the presence of sampling irregularities. We focused on studies about medicinal plants that present a species-indications list and had a quantitative nature. The proportion of works with and without sampling problems was evaluated considering the journal impact factor, period of publication, community status (urban x rural), sample type, presence of testing hypothesis and presence of research questions. We found that an alarming proportion of papers had some kind of sampling problems (48.39% serious and 19.35% moderate). The most common problems were related to: lack of information regarding the sample size or the universe, small sample sizes and selection of specialists based on obscure criteria. We could not find a significant influence between our tested variables and the occurrence of sampling problems, except for the community status (urban x rural). Results indicate that a significant amount of intracultural diversity is not properly captured, taking into consideration both the population as a whole and a group of interest in the community (= healers). <![CDATA[Are ethnopharmacological surveys useful for the discovery and development of drugs from medicinal plants?]]> Ethnopharmacological and ethnobotanical approaches are described in the literature as efficient to identify plants of interest for phytochemical and pharmacological studies. In the present work, we reflect on the quality of the data collected in ethno-directed studies. In accordance to the problems identified in published studies, and their theoretical and methodological underpinnings, we believe that these studies are poorly suited to contribute to the advancement of research aimed at the development of novel drugs. <![CDATA[Does total tannin content explain the use value of spontaneous medicinal plants from the Brazilian semi-arid region?]]> Due to the current predatory exploitation and consequent extinction of native medicinal plants around the world, strategies have been proposed aiming at the sustainable use of these resources. Accordingly, this study aims at verifying the differences in tannin compounds content in the bark of eleven species with high use value (UV) and also relating the amounts of tannins with their therapeutic indications. To quantify the total phenolic content in the samples the Folin-Ciocalteu reagent was used, and for total tannins chemical casein precipitation was applied. The amount of tannins ranged intra-specifically and the greater variation was found for Anadenanthera colubrina (angico) that displayed between 157.57 and 107.39 mg/g. The lowest variation occurred in Lafoensia replicata (mangabeira) with values ranging between 76.55 and 68.96 mg/g. There were significant differences between several of the eleven species and according to the simple regression analysis, the quantities of tannins found failed to justify their UV. Thus, it was not possible to establish whether the amount of total tannins influenced to a greater or lesser degree in the accumulation of knowledge. Moreover, this is the first study to investigate the relationship between the amount of total tannins and local botanical knowledge expressed by the UV. <![CDATA[Ethnopharmacological study of <em>Stryphnodendron rotundifolium </em>in two communities in the semi-arid region of northeastern Brazil]]> This work describes the local knowledge of the medicinal use of Stryphnodendron rotundifolium Mart., Fabaceae, according to informants in two areas of the Araripe bioregion, in the Northeast Region of Brazil. We used interviews to investigate the ethnomedicinal use of the local species to determine the mode of use, frequency of administration, duration of treatment and restrictions of use. In traditional medicine, the use of S. rotundifolium is associated with the treatment of inflammatory and infectious diseases. The part of the plant most used was the stem bark (86.11%), the predominant mode of preparation was immersion in water (52.83%), and oral administration was the most cited (48.43%). For inflammatory and infectious diseases, the treatment lasted 3-10 days and the frequency of administration was 2-3 times/day. For gastroprotective effects, treatment lasted up to 30 days, and the herb was administered 1-3 times/day. For pain complaints, the therapy varied from 2-3 days to continuous administration.The informants (46.87%) did not mention restrictions of use, except for pregnant women, with a rate of 25%. A comparison of these results with the ethnopharmacological information from other studies showed that some of the traditional indications are scientifically supported by the literature or clinical studies. Nevertheless, the results showed that pharmacologists have not fully investigated all the possible bioactivities that healers credit to this plant. <![CDATA[Henna through the centuries: a quick HPTLC analysis proposal to check henna identity]]> Henna leaves are the raw material of commercial body and hair dyes. According to historical and ethnobotanical information, henna was one of the first plants used for such purpose. However, differences can be observed between henna products by the origin of the raw material, the presence of other plants, or the addition of various contaminants that may cause allergies and permanent scarring. Nowadays henna is used everywhere but it lacks the necessary controls. We report a pharmacognostic study focused on quality control of henna's raw materials from different countries or based on other plants. The analytic approach based on High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) was proposed as a reliable technique to evaluate natural products complex mixtures, as it is also the case of derived botanical marketed products. <![CDATA[Survey of traditional beliefs in the Hungarian Csángó and Székely ethnomedicine in Transylvania, Romania]]> Transylvania, part of Romania, has a long-standing culture of Hungarian ethnomedicinal practices. The aim of this study was to review the unexplored ethnopharmacological use of plants, animals and other materials, focusing mainly on the beliefs surrounding them; and compare them with traditional uses from other countries and with scientific literature. An ethnobotanical inventory was conducted among Csángó and Székely Hungarians in three areas of the country between 2007 and 2012. Questionnaires included medical and non-medical uses of plants, animals, and other substances with rational and irrational elements. Altogether 22 plants, twelve animals, and ten other substances had documented uses for various beliefs. The treatments utilize magical numbers, like 3 and 9, to define peculiar order, tools, and like-minded aspects. Plants were used for prediction (e.g. Phaseolus vulgaris L.), protection (e.g. Corylus avellana L.), and as symbols (e.g. Arctium lappa L.). In addition to the use of animals (e.g. Salamandra salamandra L.) or no longer used elements (use of Lytta vesicatoria L.), the employment of other substances (e.g. ash, milk) was also documented. The frequency of the documented uses is in continuous decline due to environmental and social changes, and the increased prevalence of conventional healthcare. Hence, the priority of their conservation is of pivotal importance nowadays. <![CDATA[Documentation of the medicinal knowledge of Prosthechea karwinskii in a Mixtec community in Mexico]]> In Mexico, native orchids are appreciated for their ornamental value and traditional uses and in many indigenous communities they comprise part of a biocultural heritage. The orchid Prosthechea karwinskii (Mart.) J.M.H. Shaw, Orchidaceae, is particularly relevant in this context, although some of its traditional uses have been attributed to a very similar species, P. citrina. A recent study of P. karwinskii reported unknown medicinal and other traditional uses by the Mixtec community in Mexico. Unfortunately, increasing acculturation of indigenous communities has resulted in a loss of the community's traditional knowledge, thus, we herein documented the worldview and practices associated with the medicinal use of P. karwinskii as well as the socioeconomic aspects that characterize the holders of this knowledge. People with this knowledge are mainly indigenous women with little or no schooling, who learned the medicinal practices from family tradition. They use pseudobulbs, leaves, or flowers of the plant to treat coughs (infusions), wounds and burns (poultices), diabetes (tea or chewed), to prevent miscarriages and to assist in childbirth (infusions). These results show a promising future for ethnopharmacological research on P. karwinskii. <![CDATA[Women's ethnomedicinal knowledge in the rural community of São José da Figueira, Durandé, Minas Gerais, Brazil]]> São José da Figueira is a rural community which economy is based on small-sized family-owned agricultural and dairy farms. Rural communities often possess medicinal plant knowledge because not only does the rural lifestyle promote this but also because these communities coexist with a wide variety of plants. The aim of this study was to survey the knowledge of the community on plants and their medicinal uses. For data collection, semi-structured interviews and guided tours were carried out. Data were analyzed through the Major Use Agreement. All of the 34 informants were women. Plants were the first choice for use for primary health care by 75% of the interviewees. Of the total of 165 species identified, most species are exotic (45%), obtained by collection in home gardens (88%), and of herbaceous habits (65.7%). Leaves were the plant parts most often used (52%). Decoction was the most widely used form of preparation (41%), and oral intake was cited most often (66.4%). Leonurus sibiricus showed the highest value of Major Use Agreement (77.3%), in agreement with its popular use to treat diarrhea. The information obtained in this study showed that women in the community have extensive knowledge regarding medicinal plants. The home garden is a space where useful medicinal plants are maintained, and is the main location where these plants are gathered. <![CDATA[Species with medicinal and mystical-religious uses in São Francisco do Conde, Bahia, Brazil: a contribution to the selection of species for introduction into the local Unified Health System]]> We investigated the knowledge and practices of local residents in São Francisco do Conde, Bahia, regarding the use of medicinal and mystical plants with the aim of proposing strategies for the incorporation of phytotherapies into the local Unified Health System through local Basic Health Clinics. This municipality was founded during the early colonization of Brazil, introducing the monoculture of sugarcane and slave labor to the region, resulting in a currently largely Afro-Brazilian population. Key informants and local specialists were interviewed and workshops were undertaken at the Basic Health Clinics to collect data and information. The interviewees made 254 references to 126 plant species distributed among 107 genera and 50 families. Among the species cited with medicinal or mystical uses, 51.6% were considered autochtonous, and 42.8% were cited in at least one document of the Brazilian Health Ministry; of these, 11.1% were mentioned in four to eight documents, indicating potential for introduction to the local Unified Health System. The valorization of local knowledge and practices concerning the use of medicinal plants represents an important approach to public health efforts. <![CDATA[Survey of plants popularly used for pain relief in Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil]]> Ethnobotanical data can be an important tool in the search for new drugs. The Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency accepts the registration of herbal medicines based on ethnopharmacological and ethnobotanical studies. With the purpose of increasing the knowledge of potentially useful plants for the treatment of painful conditions, we analyzed the ethnobotanical studies carried out in Rio Grande do Sul state (RS-Southern Brazil); we had access to nineteen studies.To our knowledge, this is the first compilation of ethnobotanical studies that focus on pain relief carried out in RS. The species native to RS cited in at least nine (about 50%) of these studies were selected. The search retrieved 28 native species cited as used to alleviate painful conditions, which are distributed in eighteen botanical families, being Asteraceae the most mentioned. The species more frequently cited for pain relief were Achyrocline satureioides, Baccharis articulata, Baccharis crispa, Lepidium didymum, Eugenia uniflora and Maytenus ilicifolia. The only species not reported in any pre-clinical study associated with pain relief was B. articulata. Among the six species cited, no studies on clinical efficacy were found. In conclusion, the folk use of native plants with therapeutic purposes is widespread in RS State (Brazil), being pain relief an important property. <![CDATA[Ethnopharmacology in Ireland: an overview]]> The aim of this review was to extract information of the book Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain &amp; Ireland published in 2004 by Allen and Hatfield, to give an overview of plants with medicinal potential and their applications. This study attempts to attest, observe and comment on the diversity of plants, as well as the accompanying information which inevitably is vital for the future development of herbal medicines for human therapy. Initially, the information in relation to medicinal plants in Ireland only was extracted from the above-mentioned book and organised in tables. Afterwards, it was analysed through the construction of maps and the positioning of each piece of information in specific geographical regions of the country. Its division into provinces was taken into consideration as well as into counties within the provinces. These maps and graphs illustrate the most predominantly reported botanical families identified and utilised (Asteraceae, Scrophulariaceae and Lamiaceae), and to the most frequently cited medicinal uses were attributed to topical applications. As a result we can see that the uses of traditional medicines vary among these different geographical areas of the country. Not only different uses were reported but also different plants used to treat the same condition, or different conditions treated with the same plant depending on the county. Various phytopharmaceuticals date back several decades and despite the existing evolving technology, without a doubt herbal medicines can and still do provide exceptional and efficacious outcomes like many of the conventional remedies available today. <![CDATA[Ethnopharmacological studies of <em>Lippia origanoides</em>]]> Lippia origanoides Kunth. Verbenaceae, is of great importance in the Brazilian traditional medicine. Because of it, this work had the purpose to contribute to the ethnopharmacological knowledge of L. origanoides through an ethnobotanical survey conducted within quilombola (maroon) communities of Oriximiná, Pará, Brazil. Among 254 plants cited in the survey, L. origanoides stood out among the ten most versatile species. The agreed main uses were to treat menstrual cramps, stomachache, and baby and postpartum colic. This could indicate a consensus of the informants to possible antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of L. origanoides.Therefore, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of L. origanoides extract (aerial parts) were assessed through thermal (hot plate) and chemical (formalin and acetic acid) models of nociception. A dose-dependent reduction in acetic acid-induced writhing was observed after treating mice with L. origanoides extract. The same extract also inhibited significantly formalin-induced licking response and proved to have a central antinociceptive effect, in the hot plate test. This work demonstrates that L. origanoides is used specially by quilombola women from Oriximiná for disorders of the genitourinary system and that biological activities of this species could contribute to these uses. Furthermore, it was also observed antispasmodic, analgesic and antimicrobial uses of other species of the genus Lippia (Goniostachyum section), rich in thymol and carvacrol. <![CDATA[Plant species used in giardiasis treatment: ethnopharmacology and <em>in vitro</em> evaluation of anti-Giardia activity]]> The aim of this study was to compile the traditional knowledge about plants used for the treatment of giardiasis, and also to carry out experimental research to evaluate the anti-Giardia activity of five species.To reach this objective, 398 interviews were performed using a previously prepared questionnaire, followed by an in vitro evaluation of giardicidal potential of hydroalcoholic leaf extracts of Anacardium occidentale L., Chenopodium ambrosioides L., Passiflora edulis Sims, Psidium guajava L., and Stachytarpheta cayennensis (Rich.) Vahl. Among the interviewed people, 55.53% reported the use of plants to treat diarrhea, the most severe symptom of giardiasis. The results indicated 36 species used by this population for these problems. The use of leaves (72.50%) of a single plant (64.25%) collected from backyards and gardens (44.34%) and prepared by decoction were predominant. The majority of the interviewees (85.52%) attributed their cure to the use of plants. In the experimental tests, all extracts inhibited the growth of Giardia lamblia trophozoites in different intensities: A. occidentale and P. guajava extracts elicited a moderate activity (250 ≤ IC50 ≤ 500 μg/ml), C. ambrosioides and S. cayennensis extracts evoked a high activity (100 ≤ IC50 ≤ 250 μg/ml), and P. edulis extract showed very high activity (IC50 ≤ 100 μg/ml). This study shows that an ethnopharmacological approach is useful in the selection of plant materials with potential giardicidal activity. <![CDATA[Medicinal plants traded in the open-air markets in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: an overview on their botanical diversity and toxicological potential]]> Medicinal plants have been used for many years and are the source of new active substances and new drugs of pharmaceutical interest. The popular knowledge contained in the open-air markets is studied through urban ethnobotany, and is a good source of information for ethnobotanical research. In this context, we surveyed the literature on works concerning open-air markets in the State of Rio de Janeiro to gather knowledge of the commercialized plants therein. A literature search resulted in ten studies with 376 listed species, distributed in 94 families and 273 genera. Asteraceae family had the greater representation, followed by Lamiaceae and Fabaceae. Solanum was the most frequent genus. Two hundred and twenty four species could be considered potentially toxic or potentially interact with other drugs/medicines. Eighteen species are referred as "not for use during pregnancy", and 3 "not for use while nursing". These results are a source of concern since in Brazil, as it is worldwide, there is the notion that plants can never be harmful. The results for the Sørensen Coefficient showed greater similarity between works performed in very close study areas. Other studies presented low similarity, mainly because of the difficulty in plant identification or a very specific focus in methodology. <![CDATA[Traditional use and safety of herbal medicines]]> In the European Union, traditional herbal medicines that are regarded as "acceptably safe, albeit not having a recognized level of efficacy" fit into a special category of drugs ("traditional herbal medicine products") for which requirements of non-clinical and clinical studies are less rigorous. A regulation proposal published by the Brazilian National Health Surveillance (Anvisa) defines a similar drug category ("traditional phytotherapeutic products") for registration purposes. Regarding herbal medicines, both agencies seem to be lenient regarding proof of efficacy, and consider long-standing folk use as evidence of safety and a waiver of a thorough toxicological evaluation. Nonetheless, several herbal products and constituents with a long history of folk usage are suspected carcinogenic and/or hepatotoxic. Herbal products have also been shown to inhibit and/or induce drug-metabolizing enzymes. Since herbal medicines are often used in conjunction with conventional drugs, kinetic and clinical interactions are a cause for concern. A demonstration of the safety of herbal medicines for registration purposes should include at least in vitro and in vivo genotoxicity assays, long-term rodent carcinogenicity tests (for drugs intended to be continuously used for &gt; 3 months or intermittently for &gt; 6 months), reproductive and developmental toxicity studies (for drugs used by women of childbearing age), and investigation of the effects on drug-metabolizing enzymes. <![CDATA[Sale of medicinal herbs in pharmacies and herbal stores in Hurlingham district, Buenos Aires, Argentina]]> In this paper, the sale of medicinal plants was described in the urban city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with pharmacists and herb store owners about different characteristics of retail. Likewise, different types of retailers were compared, and the phytomedicine degree of acceptance was consulted. The percentage of customers who buy medicinal plants in herb stores is higher than in pharmacies. The five most demanded species were: "malva" (Malva sp.), 18%; "manzanilla" (Matricaria recutita), 13%; "tilo" (Tilia sp.), 12%; "cuasia" (Picrasma crenata), 8%; and "boldo" (Peumus boldus), 7%. In like manner, the most demanded mixes of species were those that had slimming properties, 21%; digestive, 17%; sedative and diuretic, 13%. Of the 32 most frequently requested species, only 13 are native. Phytomedicines were widely accepted in the different kinds of retail stores. It was also emphasized that, contrary to the usual assumption, the choice to consume plants is cultural rather than economic. Due to the acceptance observed in the use of phytomedicines, it must be emphasized the potential that Argentina possesses for the development of this industry.