Plant ethnomedicine in Bosnia and Herzegovina, past and present
Background: Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) belongs to the group of Western Balkan and Mediterranean countries. Its specific geographical position and numerous refugial habitats are responsible for today's remarkable plant biodiversity. The Biocultural diversity of this area originated in the Stone Age, additionally enriched by the influence of various conquerors: Slavic tribes, the appearance of the Franciscans, the Ottoman Empire, the arrival of Sephardic Jews, and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
Methods: The diachronic changes in the use of medicinal plants in BIH from the Middle Ages until today were studied. In this research, 1211 randomly selected respondents of different ages, genders, and levels of education participated. Frequency (FC) and the relative frequency of citation (RFC), therapeutic use, number of use reports (UR) and the family importance value (FIV) were used to evaluate the relevance of detected species and families.
Results: In daily life practices, respondents utilize about 145 plant species for medicinal purposes, mainly as an infusion, herbal juice, tincture, syrup, and oil. The ethnobotanical bibliography for the region of BIH includes 43 references published so far. According to them, current healers and the local population no longer use about 21% or 60 plant species from 55 genera and 40 families. Also, the ways of application changed, while the ritual uses entirely vanished.
Conclusions: Diachronic changes in traditional medicine in BIH resulted in a decrease in indigenous knowledge about autochthonous medicinal plant species. Native plant resource funds stay neglected while current local connoisseurs and people frequently utilize commonly known innovative medicinal plants.
Keywords: Traditional knowledge, Medicinal plants, BIH
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