Plants are the primary source of medicine for most of the world. The most fundamental step in the scientific study of medicinal plants is establishing their botanical identity. Many studies lack voucher specimens, which serve as permanent records of scientific investigations. This omission makes positive identification impossible and hinders reproducibility. Even when vouchers are cited, scientific names are often mishandled. A random survey of titles and abstracts of 100 publications revealed 20 with taxonomic errors. Mistakes included a lack of author citations, misspellings, and use of older synonyms instead of currently accepted names. A seemingly minor orthographic error makes it impossible to search electronic databases for information about a species. Medicinal plant manuscripts and National Institutes of Health proposals commonly lack scientific rigor in dealing with botanical names and documentation. This article examines common taxonomic problems relevant to medicinal plant research and provides a basic guide to plant taxonomy for medicinal plant researchers. Voucher specimens and their preparation, plant identification, and botanical nomenclature are discussed. References and other resources to assist investigators are cited.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ethnopharmacology as a well-defined field has a relatively short history, but for centuries researchers have been interested in the observation, description, and experimental investigation of indigenous drugs and their biological activities. Today, such articles are published in a variety of journals among which the Journal of Ethnopharmacology has a prominent position as well as in book monographs. As any other area of scientific endeavour, this field requires a critical and engaged discussion about the conceptual basis, the relevant methods and the overall standards necessary for excellence. Here we review recent ethnopharmacological field studies in order to highlight achievements and future needs for improving the quality of such studies. The basis for this review is 40 field studies published in the years 2007 and 2008 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Researchers need to have a clear vision for what and how they want to achieve a conceptually and methodologically sound approach and as in all disciplines adherence to internationally recognized methodological standards is essential. Here we review not only the basic conceptual requirements but also the minimal methodological (i.e. botanical, anthropological/historical,ethnomedical) standards and ways how to quantify ethnopharmacological information. Future uses of such information both in the context of experimental research and in applied projects highlight the multiple roles of such data generated in ethnopharmacological field studies. This review cannot be a book of recipes on how to conduct such research but highlights minimal conceptual and methodological requirements for use in future projects.
Journal of ethnopharmacology 08/2009; 124(1):1-17. DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2009.03.043 · 3.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cranberry juice is used routinely, especially among women and the elderly, to prevent and treat urinary tract infections. These individuals are likely to be taking medications concomitantly with cranberry juice, leading to concern about potential drug-dietary substance interactions, particularly in the intestine, which, along with the liver, is rich in expression of the prominent drug metabolizing enzyme, cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A). Using a systematic in vitro-in vivo approach, a cranberry juice product was identified recently that elicited a pharmacokinetic interaction with the CYP3A probe substrate midazolam in 16 healthy volunteers. Relative to water, cranberry juice inhibited intestinal first-pass midazolam metabolism. In vitro studies were initiated to identify potential enteric CYP3A inhibitors from cranberry via a bioactivity-directed fractionation approach involving dried whole cranberry [Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. (Ericaceae)], midazolam, and human intestinal microsomes (HIM). Three triterpenes (maslinic acid, corosolic acid, and ursolic acid) were isolated. The inhibitory potency (IC(50)) of maslinic acid, corosolic acid, and ursolic acid was 7.4, 8.8, and < 10 µM, respectively, using HIM as the enzyme source and 2.8, 4.3, and < 10 µM, respectively, using recombinant CYP3A4 as the enzyme source. These in vitro inhibitory potencies, which are within the range of those reported for two CYP3A inhibitory components in grapefruit juice, suggest that these triterpenes may have contributed to the midazolam-cranberry juice interaction observed in the clinical study.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: The present conceptual review explores intercultural healthcare -defined as the integration of traditional medicine and biomedicine as complementary healthcare systems- in minority and underserved communities. This integration can take place at different levels: individuals (patients, healers, biomedical healthcare providers), institutions (health centers, hospitals) or society (government policy). BACKGROUND: Contemporary ethnobotany research of traditional medicine has primarily dealt with the botanical identification of plants commonly used by local communities, and the identification of health conditions treated with these plants, whereas ethnopharmacology has focused on the bioactivity of traditional remedies. On the other hand, medical anthropology seems to be the scholarship more involved with research into patients' healthcare-seeking itineraries and their interaction with traditional versus biomedical healthcare systems. The direct impact of these studies on public health of local communities can be contested. AIM OF THE REVIEW: To compare and discuss the body of scholarly work that deals with different aspects of traditional medicine in underserved and minority communities, and to reflect on how gaps identified in research can be bridged to help improve healthcare in these communities. KEY FINDINGS: The literature covers a broad range of information of relevance to intercultural healthcare. This information is fragmented across different scientific and clinical disciplines. A conceptual review of these studies identifies a clear need to devote more attention to ways in which research on traditional medicine can be more effectively applied to improve local public health in biomedical resource-poor settings, or in geographic areas that have disparities in access to healthcare. CONCLUSIONS: Scholars studying traditional medicine should prioritize a more interdisciplinary and applied perspective to their work in order to forge a more direct social impact on public health in local communities most in need of healthcare.
Journal of ethnopharmacology 05/2013; 148(3). DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2013.05.039 · 3.00 Impact Factor
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