The relevance of traditional knowledge systems for ethnopharmacological research: Theoretical and methodological contributions

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Abstract

© 2014 by Apple Academic Press, Inc. Ethnopharmacology is, by definition, at the intersection of the medical, natural, and social sciences [1]. Despite the interdisciplinary nature of ethnopharmacology, much of its research has been exclusively based on the combination of the chemical, biological, and pharmacological sciences. Less attention has been given to the potential contributions of the social sciences, including anthropology and the study of traditional knowledge systems (but see, for example, the work of Giovannini and Heinrich [2], Thomas, Vandebroek, and colleagues [3,4], Pieroni and colleagues [5], Albuquerque and Oliveira [6], Pardo-de-Santayana and colleagues [7] among others). When anthropological expertise and tools have been used, the main purpose has been to obtain catalogues of medicinal plant uses, which were often abstracted from their cultural contexts and subject to little analysis or interpretation [8-10]. Furthermore, more often than not-and especially when working among indigenous peoples-the sole purpose of obtaining those lists and catalogues has been to facilitate the intentional and focused discovery of active compounds. In sum, with some remarkable exceptions and without undervaluing researchers who have catalogued the often threatened knowledge of medicinal plant uses, to date many ethnopharmacologists have limited themselves to document indigenous pharmacopoeias in the search for pharmacologically unique principles that might result in the development of commercial drugs [11] or nutraceuticals [12].
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecent Advances in Plant-Based, Traditional, and Natural Medicines
Pages1-25
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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