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Religiosity/Spirituality Matters on Plant-Based Local Medical System


Religiosity/spirituality can affect health and quality of life in myriad ways. Religion has been present since the first moments of our evolutionary history, whether it is understood as a byproduct or as an adaptation of our cognitive evolution. We investigated how religion influences medicinal plant-based local medical systems (LMSs) and focuses on how individual variation in the degree of religiosity/spirituality affects the structure of LMSs. The knowledge of people about their medical systems was obtained through the free-listing technique, and level of religiosity/spirituality was calculated using the Brazilian version of the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality. We employed a Generalized Linear Model to obtain the best model. Religiosity/spirituality is predictive of structural and functional aspects of medicinal plant-based LMSs. Our model encourages a discussion of the role of religion in the health of an individual as well as in the structure of an individual’s support system. Religiosity/spirituality (and the dimensions of Commitment and Religious and Spiritual History, in particular) act to protect structural and functional elements of LMSs. By providing protection, the LMS benefits from greater resilience, at both the individual and population levels. We suggest that the socialization process resulting from the religious phenomenon has contributed to the complexity and maintenance of LMSs by means of the interaction of individuals as they engage in their religious observances, thus facilitating cultural transmission.

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Contribution of the INCT Ethnobiology, Bioprospecting and Nature Conservation, certified by CNPq, with financial support from FACEPE (Foundation for Support to Science and Technology of the State of Pernambuco).

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Correspondence to Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque.

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Albuquerque, U.P., Ferreira Júnior, W.S., Sousa, D.C.P. et al. Religiosity/Spirituality Matters on Plant-Based Local Medical System. J Relig Health 57, 1948–1960 (2018).

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  • Ethnomedicine
  • Ethnobotany
  • Cultural evolution
  • Traditional medical systems
  • Cognitive byproduct
  • Prosociality
  • Forgiveness
  • Health