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Revista Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais

Print version ISSN 1516-0572

Abstract

MESSIAS, M.C.T.B. et al. Popular use of medicinal plants and the socioeconomic profile of the users: a study in the urban area of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Rev. bras. plantas med. [online]. 2015, vol.17, n.1, pp.76-104. ISSN 1516-0572.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1983-084X/12_139.

This work aimed to identify the medicinal plants of popular use and the socioeconomic profile of the users in the urban area of Ouro Preto, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The survey was carried out with random sampling and semi-structured interviews, amounting to 10% of households. The degree of knowledge about medicinal plants was measured by the number of species mentioned. The relationship between the popular knowledge about medicinal plants and the socioeconomic characteristics of the users (income, education, gender, age and type of knowledge acquisition) was also studied. In this survey, 6,713 inhabitants were questioned, of whom more than 90% use medicinal plants. A total of 342 species grouped in 94 families were identified. The popular names, growth habit, habitat, medicinal uses, part used and method of preparation are listed for each identified species. The main ailments treated with plants were diarrhea, insomnia, flu, dropsy and liver, renal and respiratory tract disorders. There is a large number of native species. Among the exotic ones, most are of European origin. The spiritual use of species, although present in the popular culture of the city, was negligible. Some species figure on the Brazilian red lists. It was noted that knowledge of medicinal plants by the population of Ouro Preto, in species richness, is not related to income, class, educational level and gender. The age and manner of acquisition of empirical knowledge about medicinal plants are associated with the number of species listed. Persons with greater popular knowledge about medicinal plants acquired information through family tradition, books and from other persons. Younger persons know fewer medicinal plants than the older ones, what suggests a loss of this traditional knowledge. The richness of the plants mentioned in this paper demonstrates the importance of ethnobotanical studies in the rescue of traditional knowledge in urban areas, for its scientific, historical and cultural values.

Keywords : Ethnobotany; medicinal plants; Ouro Preto - MG - Brazil; socioeconomic profile; traditional knowledge.

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