From Chamomile to Aspirin? Medicinal plant use among clients at laboratorios Beal in Trujillo, Peru

Rainer W. Bussmann, Douglas Sharon, M. Garcia

Abstract


Medicinal plant use in Peru can be tracked back for millennia, and although westernized medicine has become an important factor in the treatment of illnesses, many patients still frequent herbalist shops and retain some herbal knowledge of their own. The present study, undertaken at “Laboratorios Beal,” a herbalist practice in Trujillo, Peru, was conducted as a comparison to previous research at Clinica Anticona, a Western style clinic in the same city, to evaluate if patients at a herbal clinic were more likely to use plants for treatment rather than pharmaceuticals, and if their own plant knowledge was more extensive than the knowledge of the patients interviewed at a Western clinic. The results demonstrate that, amongst the patients of the herbal clinic, plants do played only a slightly larger role when compared to the use of pharmaceuticals, indicating that patients at the herbal clinic were as likely to use Western pharmaceuticals as patients at a Western clinic were using herbs, and vise versa. Even at a herbalist shop many patients thought that pharmaceutical medicine to be faster and more effective than herbs, while plants were regarded as safer and free from side-effects. The plant knowledge of individual patients was comparable to the knowledge encountered at a western medicinal facility.

El uso de plantas medicinales en el Perú puede ser trazado hacia milenio atrás, y aunque la medicina occidental ha llegado a ser un factor importante en el tratamiento de la enfermedad, todavía muchos pacientes visitan las tiendas de herbolarios y retienen conocimientos propios d las yerbas. El estudio presente, llevado a cabo en “Laboratorios Beal”, un consultorio herboristico en Trujillo, Perú, trata de descubrir si las pacientes a tal facilidad usan de preferencia plantas medicinales sobre productos farmacéuticos, y si sus conocimientos de plantas medicinales son más extensivos que los de los clientes de una clínica occidental. Los resultados de nuestro estudio demuestran que, entre los pacientes de la tienda de yerbas, las plantas juegan un papel un poco más grande en comparación con el uso de productos farmacéuticos. Sin embargo, la diferencia es marginal y las preferencias de uso son comparables a esos de una clínica occidental. Por eso aún en la tienda de yerbas muchos pacientes piensan que la medicina farmacéutica es más rápida y efectiva mientras que se consideran a las plantas como más seguras y libre de efectos secundarios. Los conocimientos herborísticos de pacientes individuales son comparable a esos encontrados en una clínica occidental.



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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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