Medical ethnobotany of the Zapotecs of the Isthmus-Sierra (Oaxaca, Mexico): documentation and assessment of indigenous uses
Frei, B, Baltisberger, M, Sticher, O & Heinrich, M 1998, 'Medical ethnobotany of the Zapotecs of the Isthmus-Sierra (Oaxaca, Mexico): documentation and assessment of indigenous uses', Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 149-165.
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The Zapotec inhabitants of the Sierra de Oaxaca foothills (Mexico) live in an area of great botanic diversity. In daily subsistence and in response to illness, plants play a major role. An inventory of the Zapotec medicinal ethnobotany was carried out during 17 months of fieldwork. A total of 3611 individual responses concerning medicinal and non-medicinal uses for 445 different species of plants were documented. For the subsequent semi-quantitative analysis of data, the uses were grouped into ten categories and the responses for each species were summed up in each of these ten groups to yield rank-ordered lists. For the high rank-ordered and, hence, culturally important species, an assessment of the therapeutic potential was conducted using ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological data in the literature. Studies confirming the attributed properties or a scientific explanation of therapeutic use, as well as toxicological data, are still lacking for many of these species. The quantitative approach described will be the basis for future studies on the pharmacology and phytochemistry of Zapotec medicinal species. Finally, these data should also serve as a basis for biodiversity conservation and community development.