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Medical ethnobotany of the Yucatec Maya: Healers’ consensus as a quantitative criterion

Etnobotanica Medica de los Mayas Yucatecos: Consenso de Curanderos como Criterio Cuantitativo

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Abstract

Medical Ethnobotany of the Yucatec Maya: Healers’ Consensus as a Quantitative Criterion. Economic Botany 53(2):144–160, 1999. There is an urgent need to obtain information on the relative importance of a taxon used medicinally as compared to others within the same culture. This was achieved through a documentation of the current indigenous medical uses of 320 species in three Yucatec Maya communities during 18 months of fieldwork. The 1549 individual reports documented were divided into nine groups, which classify indigenous uses. The frequency of usage of the individual plants reported was employed in the analysis of the ethnobotanical importance of the respective taxa. Species cited more frequently in a group of indigenous uses are regarded to be of greater ethnobotanical importance than those cited only by a few informants. In order to obtain information on possible biological, pharmacological and toxicological effects of some particularly important species, the scientific literature on these taxa was evaluated systematically. The study is the basis for phytochemical and pharmacological evaluations of the traditional uses.

Resumen

Se considera esencial la documentación de la importancia relativa que un taxon de uso medicinal tiene, en comparación con otros taxones dentro de una misma cultura. Con este propósito se realizó un estudio etnobotánico de 18 meses, investigando el uso de 320 especies en très comunidades Mayas del Estado de Yucatán (México). Se documentaron 1549 usos indigenas, que se clasificaron en 9 grupos. Se utilizó el numero de usos indígenas para determinar la importancia relativa de cada especie; así, las especies medicinales que fueron citadas con mayor frecuencia se consideran las de mayor importancia, mientras que las especies citadas con menor frecuencia son las de menor importancia. Para evaluar los usos indigenas se obtuvo información sobre efectos biológicos, farmacológicos y toxicológicos de las especies, através de una revisión sistemática de la literatura científica. Este estudio es la base para la selección de plantas que se evaluarán en estudios fitoquímicos y farmacológicos.

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Ankli, A., Sticher, O. & Heinrich, M. Medical ethnobotany of the Yucatec Maya: Healers’ consensus as a quantitative criterion. Econ Bot 53, 144–160 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02866493

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