Local Criteria for Medicinal Plant Selection
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Some of the factors that influence the entrance of plants in a pharmacopoeia (inclusion) and the degree of importance of these plants to a human population (differential use) are described in this chapter. Certain variables, such as “chemical efficiency,” “cultural aspects,” and “organoleptic properties,” are highlighted. We show evidence that the concentration of certain compounds can determine a plant’s entrance and local importance. Recent studies have also shown that a plant’s taste and smell can influence its inclusion in local pharmacopoeias, so that taste and smell can be indicators of medicinal × non-medicinal species. We also show some studies that point out the role of taste and smell in influencing the therapeutic indications that are trated by a given species. We also discuss why some species are present in local medical systems even without chemical efficiency. The genetic and cultural nature of medicinal plant selection is also discussed.
KeywordsEvolutionary ethnobiology Human ecology Local ecological knowledge Plant resource use
The authors thank all members of the Laboratory of Theoretical and Applied Ethnobiology (LEA) for the important discussions that influenced this chapter. This work was supported by funding from the National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq—Proc. 471989/2012-6).
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