First comprehensive contribution to medical ethnobotany of Western Pyrenees
Silvia Akerreta1, Rita Yolanda Cavero1 and María Isabel Calvo2
1Department of Plant Biology (Botany Section), University of Navarra, C/Irunlarrea s/n, Pamplona, 31080, Navarra, Spain
2Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology (Pharmacognosy Section), University of Navarra, C/Irunlarrea s/n, Pamplona. 31080, Navarra, Spain
An ethnobotanical and medical study was carried out in the Navarre Pyrenees, an area known both for its high biological diversity and its cultural significance.
As well as the compilation of an ethnopharmacological catalogue, a quantitative ethnobotanical comparison has been carried out in relation to the outcomes from other studies about the Pyrenees. A review of all drugs used in the area has also been carried out, through a study of the monographs published by the institutions and organizations responsible for the safety and efficacy of medicinal plants (WHO, ESCOP, and the E Commission of the German Department of Health) in order to ascertain the extent to which the Navarre Pyrenees ethnopharmacology has been officially evaluated.
Fieldwork was carried out over two years, from November 2004 to December 2006. During that time we interviewed 88 local people in 40 villages. Information was collected using semi-structured ethnobotanical interviews and the data was analyzed using quantitave indexes: Ethnobotonicity Index, Shannon-Wiener's Diversity, Equitability and The Informant Consensus Factor. The official review has been performed using the official monographs published by the WHO, ESCOP and the E Commission of the German Department of Health.
The ethnobotanical and medical catalogue of the Navarre Pyrenees Area comprises 92 species, of which 39 have been mentioned by at least three interviewees. The quantitative ethnobotany results show lower values than those found in other studies about the Pyrenees; and 57.6% of the Pyrenees medical ethnobotany described does not figure in documents published by the above mentioned institutions.
The results show a reduction in the ethnobotanical and medical knowledge in the area of study, when compared to other studies carried out in the Pyrenees. Nevertheless, the use of several species that may be regarded as possible sources for pharmacological studies is reported here such as the bark of Sambucus nigra, the roots of Fragaria vesca, or the leaves of Scrophularia nodosa. These species are not currently approved by the WHO, ESCOP and the E Commission of the German Department of Health, institutions that, apart from encouraging the greater use of plants for medicinal purposes, may help in the design of development plans for these rural areas by validating their traditional medicine.
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2007, 3:26. An Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0).