Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

Summer 2011

Abstract

Brazil is a country with a high amount of biodiversity, accounting for 10% of all species existing on the planet (Inoue 2004). Biodiversity is defined on three different levels; genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity. All levels of diversity are present in Brazil and it is important to preserve this rich and vital environment (Motta 1996). Ethnobotanical research analyzes plant usage and how it relates to culture and the physical environment. This paper focuses on an ethnobotanical study in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil to analyze the use of medicinal plants by individuals ranging from ages 18 to 65. It was hypothesized that the population in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil will be aware of medicinal plants and their uses because of cultural practices and exposure to a variety plants in their environment. A total of 25 questionnaire surveys were distributed to volunteers and the results were tabulated. The surveys were first approved by the IRB committee at Spelman College and then they were translated from English to Portuguese. Before completing a questionnaire they were required to read and signed a consent form, confirming their understanding and interest in the study. The results indicated that 92% (23/25) of the participants used medicinal plants consistently. Also, over 10 different medicinal plants were identified by the volunteer participants. Culture influenced the participants because the majority of these practices were learned from elderly family members, such as grandparents. The most popular plant used was Bolda, a leaf used for digestion and constipation (Anonymous 2001). The majority of the medicinal plants used were to cure digestion and removal of parasites. This was probably due to the socioeconomic status of these participants and sanitary conditions in which they live in. They are more susceptible to parasites and digestive complications because of their environment. Examples of popular medicinal plants are Bolda leaf, Aurora Plant, and Cha Verde. These research findings can be further used for toxicology, pharmacology and ecological studies.

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