Ethnopharmacological investigation of plants used to treat susto, a folk illness.

Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 6N5.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.76). 02/2007; 109(3):380-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2006.08.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Selected plants used to treat susto, a folk illness recognized by various groups of Latin America, were screened for anxiolytic and/or fear suppression activity in behavioral assays. We found that the plant used by most of the healers interviewed (Adiantum tetraphyllum Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.; Adiantaceae) suppressed certain components of anxiety and fear. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the biological activity of Adiantum tetraphyllum. This finding supports the contention that susto may represent what in the Western culture is defined as fear or anxiety, and hence may share the same psychological, biological or neural underpinnings. In light of the available literature, this represents the first experimental investigation of the biological activity of plants specifically in the perspective of their use in treating a culture-bound syndrome.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Parts and products of animals and plants, like exudates, have been used for medicinal and/or toxic purposes by various human groups throughout history. However, few ethnopharmacological studies have engaged their rescue. To perform a broad ethnopharmacological survey of the local medicine practiced by traditional healing experts living in relative isolation at seven communities within the Amazon rainforest, in order to provide the basis for further pharmacological studies of the most promising findings. The field work was conducted using an ethnographic approach with the assistance of a doctor. Plants and animals, as well as their products and derivatives, reported by the practitioners as being involved in healing practices were collected, identified and deposited in scientific collections. A total of 33 traditional healing experts were selected and interviewed; they described themselves as: healer, midwife, knowledgeable of natural drugs or 'desmintidor' (an expert in massage techniques for the treatment of muscle contractures and joint sprains). In this therapeutic practice, 122 plant species, belonging to 60 botanical families, were indicated and collected; the most frequently mentioned families were: Fabaceae s.l. (10%), Arecaceae (6%), Zingiberaceae (5%) and Lamiaceae (5%). Plant exudates from 14 of those plant species were also indicated and collected, with those from the Burseraceae family being the most common. Furthermore, 57 animals belonging to 35 taxonomic families were indicated. They most frequently belonged to 2 families of bony fishes: Cichlidae (14%) and Characidae (9%). Plants and animals were indicated for 67 therapeutic uses and grouped into 21 usage categories; the psychoactive category was associated with the greatest number of used resources (17%), followed by the cultural syndromes category (16.7%). The geographic isolation and limited access to medical care in these communities resulted in unique, rich and consistent therapeutic system. There was a high degree of agreement among interviewees regarding the use of the same resources especially in the categories: psychoactive, cultural syndromes, pregnancy and childbirth, and inflammatory processes, suggesting a high degree of repetition and intercommunication. Further pharmacological and phytochemical investigations may search for new bioactive compounds among the described resources.
    Journal of ethnopharmacology 05/2012; 142(2):503-15. · 2.32 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Graphical abstract Extracts of Souroubea spp. showed anxiolytic activity in the elevated plus maze test in rats and betulinic acid was isolated as the active principle. Other phytochemicals isolated were 2-hydroxyursolic acid, taraxenyl trans-4-hydroxy-cinnamate, naringenin, methyl ursolate, eriodytiol, methyl 2-α-hydroxyursolate, methyl 2-α-hydroxymaslinate, methyl betulinate, and condrilla sterol.
    Phytochemistry 01/2014; · 3.05 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Typically, ethnobotanical/ethnopharmacological (EB/EP) surveys are used to describe uses, doses/dosages, sources and methods of preparation of traditional herbal medicines; their application to date in examining the adverse effects, contraindications and other safety aspects of these preparations is limited. From a pharmacovigilance perspective, numerous challenges exist in applying its existing methods to studying the safety profile of herbal medicines, particularly where used by indigenous cultures. This paper aims to contribute to the methodological aspects of EB/EP field work, and to extend the reach of pharmacovigilance, by proposing a tool comprising a list of questions that could be applied during interview and observational studies. The questions focus on the collection of information on the safety profile of traditional herbal medicines as it is embedded in traditional knowledge, as well as on identifying personal experiences (spontaneous reports) of adverse or undesirable effects associated with the use of traditional herbal medicines. Questions on the precise composition of traditional prescriptions or 'recipes', their preparation, storage, administration and dosing are also included. Strengths and limitations of the tool are discussed. From this interweaving of EB/EP and pharmacovigilance arises a concept of ethnopharmacovigilance for traditional herbal medicines: the scope of EB/EP is extended to include exploration of the potential harmful effects of medicinal plants, and the incorporation of pharmacovigilance questions into EB/EP studies provides a new opportunity for collection of 'general' traditional knowledge on the safety of traditional herbal medicines and, importantly, a conduit for collection of spontaneous reports of suspected adverse effects. Whether the proposed tool can yield data sufficiently rich and of an appropriate quality for application of EB/EP (e.g. data verification and quantitative analysis tools) and pharmacovigilance techniques (e.g. causality assessment and data mining) requires field testing.
    Drug Safety 01/2013; 36(1):1-12. · 2.62 Impact Factor