A Review of Fauna Used in Zootherapeutic Remedies in Portugal: Historical Origins, Current Uses, and Implications for Conservation



Portugal has a very rich ethnozoological heritage due to its rich biodiversity, history, and culture. However, there are very few works dedicated to this, and little is known about the zootherapeutic remedies used in Portugal. Due to its location in a biodiversity hotspot, its agro-pastoralist traditions and also its role during the maritime discoveries of the Renaissance, Portugal has a long list of animals and animal parts that have been used in its folk medicine. These uses can still be found in many historical documents and pharmacopeias. Although these uses started to decline in the nineteenth century, many of them survived, being passed from generation to generation by oral tradition, and are still used by local populations. We can still find 225 remedies, using 54 animal species, mainly domestic animals and common species, in use in modern day Portugal. The use of some animals in traditional medicine, such as Lataste’s viper, the Iberian wolf, and the European pond turtle, can be an additional pressure on these already endangered species. Studies are much needed to better understand zootherapeutic uses in Portuguese folk medicine and their implications for conservation. This chapter intends to be a starting point to these future investigations.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudos de História e Filosofia da Ciência (CEHFCi)Universidade de ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal

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