Ethnopharmacology of the Popoluca, Mexico: An evaluation

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Leonti, M, Vibrans, H, Sticher, O & Heinrich, M 2001, 'Ethnopharmacology of the Popoluca, Mexico: An evaluation', Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, vol. 53, no. 12, pp. 1653-1669.

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Medicinal plants are an essential part of indigenous pharmaceutical systems. We studied the medicinal plants used by the Popoluca of the Sierra Santa Marta (Eastern Mexico). This study is part of a series on the ethnopharmacology of various Macro-Mayan groups. During 16 months of ethnobotanical fieldwork, 614 taxa used medicinally and 4488 individual use-reports were documented. The data are analysed using the concept of the "healers' consensus" in order to identify culturally important medicinal plants. The medicinal uses of the plants were grouped into 13 illness categories. The responses for each species were summarized for each of the categories and were ordered by frequency of mention. The most frequently recorded medicinal plants of the Popoluca are Hamelia patens, used to stop bleeding from wounds, and Byrsonima crassifolia, used against diarrhoea. The high-ranked medicinal species were assessed pharmacognostically using published phytochemical and pharmacological data. Popoluca medicinal uses were fairly consistent with published data on active ingredients for those plants for which such data exist. However, data is still lacking for many other species. Toxicological studies are particularly scarse. This study will be used as a basis for subsequent studies on the pharmacology and phytochemistry of medicinal plant species.

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