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Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências

versão impressa ISSN 0001-3765versão On-line ISSN 1678-2690

An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. vol.81 no.4 Rio de Janeiro dez. 2009 



Medicinal plants used by "Passo da Ilha" rural community in the city of Pato Branco, southern Brazil



José A. MarcheseI; Lin C. MingII; Lucia de FranceschiI; Rubia C. CamochenaI; Greice D.R. GomesI; Marcos V. PaladiniI; Diogo CapelinI; Cristine F. MarcheseIII

ICurso de Agronomia, Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná, Via do Conhecimento, km 1 85503-390 Pato Branco, PR, Brasil
IIFaculdade de Ciências Agrárias, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rua José Barbosa de Barros, 1780 Fazenda Lageado, 18603-970 Botucatu, SP, Brasil
IIISecretaria de Educação, Prefeitura Municipal de Pato Branco, Rua Caramuru, 271 Centro, 85501-060 Pato Branco, PR, Brasil





The scope of this work was to rescue and document the traditional knowledge regarding the medicinal plants used by Passo da Ilha rural community, in Pato Branco, Paraná State, Southern Brazil (26° 11' S, 52°36' W and 760 m high). Structured interviews were made in field research with 16 informants who had the traditional knowledge about medicinal plants. The research was carried out from October to December 2000. The plants were collected in the field, identified and their vouchers were housed at the Herbarium "Irina Delanova De Gemtchjnicov" (BOTU) of São Paulo State University, in Botucatu. A total of 47 botanical families and 114 species of medicinal plants were identified. These plants ere suitable for ore than 30 different edicinal uses. The residents are mainly of European descent, which justify the presence of many exotic plants. The knowledge on how to use medicinal plants properly is held mainly by the females, and decreases in the newer generations, denoting "cultural erosion" in progress.

Key words: cultural erosion, ethnobotany, medicinal plants, traditional knowledge.


O objetivo deste trabalho foi resgatar e documentar o conhecimento popular referente às plantas medicinais utilizadas na comunidade rural do Passo da Ilha, em Pato Branco-PR (26° 11' S, 52°36' W e 760 m de altitude). Optou-se por utilizar o modelo de entrevista estruturada com 16 informantes, os quais possuíam o conhecimento sobre o uso das plantas medicinais em suas famílias. O período da realização das entrevistas foi de outubro a dezembro de 2000. As plantas foram coletadas no campo, identificadas e "vouchers" foram depositados no Herbário "Irina Delanova De Gemtchjnicov" (BOTU) da Universidade Estadual Paulista, em Botucatu-SP. Foram identificadas 47 famílias botânicas e 114 espécies de plantas medicinais. Estas plantas foram indicadas para mais de 30 usos medicinais diferentes. A comunidade é composta na maioria por descendentes de europeus, justificando a presença de muitas plantas exóticas. O domínio do uso das plantas é feminino, porém o conhecimento é menor nas gerações mais novas, denotando um processo de erosão cultural.

Palavras-chave: erosão cultural, etnobotânica, plantas medicinais, conhecimento tradicional.




The use of medicinal plants and their derived forms have produced the basis of the therapeutics through the centuries. With the Chemistry evolution, starting from the 19th century, the way in which plants were used changed: from the direct use of these plants alone or mixed to the artificial reproduction of isolated active substances through active molecules. As a consequence, the plants that form these substances were considered to be less important.

Therefore, the relative knowledge of the medicinal plants is being lost through the generations. Despite of this, most of the world's population has little access to conventional medical care - which relies on the prescription of synthetic medication that is usually too expensive for them. In this sense, a considerable additional difficulty is the limited availability of synthetic medications for the poorer populations in the government health service. One of the viable and inexpensive alternatives to access medication would be the use of medicinal plants and their mixtures by the communities as a complementary form of therapeutics. Most populations present high cultural attachment to their own traditions, a factor that would facilitate the development of a community program that uses medicinal plants with proven therapeutic action. It could encourage the traditional uses of the plants in the communities (Farnsworth etal. 1985, Farnsworth 1988).

According to Farnsworth et al. (1985), and Elizabetsky (1991, 2000), a fairly high percentage of useful plant-derived drugs was discovered as a result of scientific research of well-known plants used in traditional medicine, and the authors have concluded that this is a good approach for discovering other useful drugs derived from plants.

The scope of this work was to rescue and document the traditional knowledge regarding the medicinal plants used by the population of the rural community called "Passo da Ilha" in Pato Branco, Paraná State, Brazil.



"Passo da Ilha" rural community in Pato Branco, Paraná State, Brazil, (26° 11' S; 52°36' W) (Fig. 1), is mainly composed by small properties where subsistence agriculture is practiced. The first objective of this work was to have discussions in informal meetings with the community, so that they understand and allow the activities that would be carried out. The ethnobotanical survey was conducted by structured interviews with 16 informants who had the knowledge of medicinal plants usage in their families (Martin 1995, Alexiades 1996). The interviews were carried out from October to December 2000.

The plants were collected in field, pressed and labeled (Martin 1995, Ming 1995, Alexiades 1996). Plant species were identified and voucher specimens housed at the Herbarium "Irina Delanova De Gemtchjnicov" (BOTU) of São Paulo State University in Botucatu. For protection purposes, regarding the genetic resources and the traditional knowledge of medicinal use of these plants by the community, no information related to medicinal use was reported. This publication option is in agreement with other researcher's thoughts (Laird and Kate 2002) and we found it to be the more ethical form to communicate the results in ethnobotanical survey.



A total of 47 botanical families and 114 species of medicinal plants were identified; the prevalent families were Asteraceae and Lamiaceae, with 20 and 16 species, respectively (Table I). These data agree with those of Dorigoni et al. (2001) and Garlet and Irgang (2001), in ethnobotanical studies that were carried out in the South of Brazil, where the dominant species was Asteracea, followed by Lamiaceae. The high number of species mentioned for medicinal use is in contrast with the few informants interviewed (16), which shows a great knowledge of medicinal plants mainly by elderly people. These numbers reflect the value of the traditional knowledge kept by the elderly people from communities and their importance to both cultural and biological conservation (Heinrich et al. 1998, Amorozo 2002, Monteiro et al. 2006).



The medicinal plants were suitable for more than 30 different medicinal uses, predominantly for respiratory diseases and stomachic diseases, with 17.22% (57 citations) and 9.97% (33 citations), respectively (Table II). These data agree with those of Garlet and Irgang (2001) and Marodin and Baptista (2001) who found similar results in ethnobotanical studies that were carried out in the South of Brazil and in the West of Brazil by Amorozo (2002), where respiratory and stomachic diseases are the two main health problems. The cold and wet weather in winter could worsen the health conditions of the inhabitants in most parts of Paraná State and affect their respiratory conditions.



Motomiya et al. (2004), while investigating the use of medicinal plants in Cassilândia - Mato Grosso, Brazil, noticed that the most frequently mentioned plants are those used for stomach, intestine and breathing illness treatment such as flu, bronchitis and cough. Franco and Barros (2006) found that the greatest variety of different medicinal plants was for the control of breathing illnesses, coming to 26.7%, in Esperantina - Piauí, Brazil.

Figure 2 shows that many medicinal species were recurrently mentioned by different informants possibly due to the fact that they are long-standing inhabitants of the locations (Table III) and exchange plants and information. A great number of exotic plants were listed in the interviews (Fig. 2), and this is probably due to the fact that the informants have predominantly European ancestry (Italian 38%; German 13%; Portuguese 9%; Ukrainian 6%; Poles 3%) and only 31% of Brazilian ancestry. Paraná State is one of the Brazilian States that has received waves of European immigrants since end of 19th century, which contributes to its great cultural diversity. In addition, 65 exotic species and 49 native species of medicinal plants were identified (Appendix I). These data are similar to those observed by Dorigoni et al. (2001), Garlet and Irgang (2001) and Marodin and Baptista (2001) in ethnobotanical studies carried out in the south of Brazil, showing the great influence of the European immigrants.



Until 19th century the inhabitants of Paraná were indigenous and belonged to the Xetá, Guarani and Kaingang ethnic groups. The availability of land possessing one of the biggest reserves of Araucaria angustifolia (Brazilian pine) in Brazil and the regime of free properties attracted the immigrants to the region of Pato Branco (D.T.P. Menosso, unpublished data). It has been known that, between 1903 and 1910, there was the first settling of European immigrants in Pato Branco (Voltolini 1996).

The question of gender related to the sharing of knowledge shows that the transfer of knowledge through the generations about the use of medicinal plants is of women's responsibility. As a result, it is the mothers and grandmothers' duty to look for some therapeutical resource when a relative is ill (Chrisman 1977).

According to Davim et al. (2003), women have been considered the custodians of the family in a dedicated and caring manner for years, assuring good health and a quick recovery in the event of an illness. They have inherited this cultural habit from their ancestors, which results in a sensitive empirical knowledge accompanied by some intuition.

As reported by Monteiro et al. (2006), the differences in knowledge related to gender can be affected by cultural oscillations concerning factors such as the non-homogeneous distribution of medicinal plant knowledge and the generally small native population.

However, in Figure 3 a clear tendency of erosion of this knowledge is noticed, as the youngest informants mentioned a lower number of plants than the older ones. This tendency shows the need of works about recovery and practice of the knowledge of medicinal plants, clearly important in communities that lack therapeutic resources for the combat of illnesses.



Some authors have discussed this issue (Hanazaki et al. 2000, Begossi et al. 2002, Amorozo 2004), and the loss of that knowledge could be associated with the cultural disconnection of the generations.

All information found in this research, backed by the scientific knowledge, was returned to the community through educational programs. When the ethnobotanical research was finished, a second study to define the profile of consumers of spices and medicinal plants in retail in the city of Pato Branco was carried out (Marchese et al. 2004). After the definition of the consumer's profile, some of the informers received financial support and orientation to start commercial cultivation of medicinal plants and spices.



The authors would like to thank Secretaria de Educação Superior/Ministério da Educação (Sesu/MEC) and the program "Universidade Solidária" for the financial support for this project.



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Correspondence to:
José Abramo Marchese

Manuscript received on June 13, 2008; accepted for publication on June 4, 2009; presented by ALEXANDERW.A. KELLNER



Appendix I - Click to enlarge

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