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Notes from October 3rd

by: Meghan Shah

Notes from October 3rd HORT 3440

Meghan Shah
GPA 3.78

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Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants
James Affecter
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Meghan Shah on Sunday October 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HORT 3440 at University of Georgia taught by James Affecter in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants in Biology/Anthropology at University of Georgia.

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Date Created: 10/16/16
Notes from Oct 3 rd Ethnobotany  Colombian Exchange: movement of plants around the world post discovery: 15  and th th 16  centuries ○ Europeans got turkeys, tomatoes, peanuts, potatoes, corn, squash, etc. ○ Americas got bananas, grapes, citrus fruits, coffee beans, livestock, wheat,  diseases, etc.  Ethnobotany is a field of ethnobiology, which is the study of interactions between  humans and living organisms  Maya International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (Maya ICBG)  ○ 1998­2001 ○ NIH­/NSF­funded UGA project to carry out medical ethnobiology, drug discovery, botanical inventory, conservation, and sustained economic development among  the Tzeltal and Tzotzil Maya of highland Chiapas, Mexico ○ Goals ▪ (1) determine the efficacy of the most important plants employed in Maya  herbal medicine ▪ (2) developing alternative income generation opportunities for highland Maya  communities ○ 75,000 sq. kms –  9,000 known plant species. ▪ 26,000 all Mexico (18,750 in US) ▪ Some 600 used by Tzeltal and Tzotzil Maya, 200­300 routinely   Medical Ethnobiology of the Highland Chiapas Maya ○ Extreme poverty and resource scarcity is the norm among many rural  subsistence farm families ○ Paraje stats: ▪ 40% illiteracy for kids 6­15;70% illiteracy for people 15+  ▪ 80%+ homes have no running water  ▪ 90%+ no plumbing  ▪ 70% no electricity ▪ Typical wage: $3­5 ▪ Very limited healthcare options ○ Traditional Maya Healers (Curenderos) consider two realities in treating illness: ▪ Naturalistic (visible) reality – treatment is based on clear­cut and apparent  symptoms and are treated with medicinal plants.  Highly sophisticated  traditional knowledge based on generations of empirical experimentation ▪ Personalistic (nonvisible) reality – illness requires intervention by healers with  supernatural powers.  Treatment may involve ceremonial healing rituals or  special prayers ○ Classes of Health Conditions ▪ Naturalistic (symptom­based): respiratory (cold condition); dermatological  (warm condition); fevers (warm condition); rheumatic pains; women’s  conditions; edemas; breaks and sprains; gastrointestinal (cold condition) ▪ Personalistic (cosmological): human­given illnesses (evil eye); God­given  illnesses (deities, spirits); soul or spirit problems; fright­susto (soul scared out  of the body)  Of the 9,000 plants known in Chiapas, about 13% are weeds, but 35% of the plants  they utilize for meds are weeds – because weeds are much more common and  much more accessible  Plant Secondary Compounds/Metabolites ○ Alkaloids: caffeine; theobromine; nicotine; scopolamine; morphine; cocaine ○ Cyanogenic Glycosides: apples, cherries, cassava, etc. ○ Terpenes and Terpenoids: conifer resins; essential oils; pigmentation; flavors  Targetes lucida: Mexican Marigold/Tarragon, Pericon ○ Mexican Marigold native to Southern Mexico (Oaxaca) and Guatemala  ○ Perennial, compact, and mounding plant ○ Very popular medicinal and spice plant in Mexico and Central America ○ Leaves used by Nahuatl to flavor chocolatl ○ Used by Tzeltal Maya to treat fever, nausea, flu, general gastrointestinal distress ○ Secretions from roots are effective in nematode control ○ Anise­scented leaves popular in salsas  Opuntia spp. Prickly Pear/Nopal ○ Plant used for thousands of years in Mexico and Central America for both food  and medicine ○ Extremely drought tolerant cactus species; thorn­less cultivars are available  locally ○ Pads cooked, fruits (tuna) consumed raw ○ Mexican tradition medicine used to treat diabetes (normalizes blood sugar); said  to lower cholesterol ○ Sap used as binding agent in adobe brick manufacturing during colonial period  Asclepias curassavica Mexican Milkweed, Bloodflower, Heirba Lechosa ○ 4’ x 4’ annual native to Central and South America ○ Excellent ethnobotanical story linking plants, insects, and culture, also used by  Maya to treat skin conditions (like rash and lesions) ○ Self seeds ○ Common to Georgia nurseries   Dysphania ambrosioides Epazote ○ Formerly Chenopodium ambrosioides ○ Used for 1000s of years by indigenous Mexicans/Central Americans to flavor  food (beans) and cure stomach “issues”  Aloysia triphylla/Lippia citroiodora Lemon Verbana, Cedron ○ Lemon Verbana is a compact 4’ x 4’ woody perennial shrub from Argentina,  Chile, and Uruguay  ○ Strong lemon scent (citral) of rough, textured leaves ○ Drought tolerant once established ○ Leaves widely used in Latin America as a tea to combat depression and  indigestion. General tonic, anti­inflammatory; edible leaves used to flavor salads,  ice creams, etc. ○ Propagated by stem cuttings ○ Can be found in local nurseries ○ GA growing season is usually too short for flowers  Mexican Oregano: Poliomintha longiflora ○ Native to Mexican state of Neuvo Leon; found throughout Mexico and US  southwest as an ornamental plant ○ Leaves used in Mexico as oregano­like spice in salsas ○ USDA study confirms high antioxidant activity ○ Excellently drought tolerant, woody sub­shrub ○ Plant has flushes of flowers from June until first hard freeze ○ To date, only available by mail­order  Mexican Bush Sage: Salvia leucantha ○ 4’ x 4’ perennial native to Mexico and Central America ○ Mounding habit; many cultivars ○ Late summer/fall flowering in zone 7 ○ Primarily ornamental, some traditional use reported in Mexico as diabetes  treatment (specifically treatment for low blood sugar) ○ Attracts butterflies and humming birds ○ Propagation best through stem cuttings, division of rooted plants ○ Locally available species  Pineapple Sage: Salvia elegans ○ Another sage easily found in local nurseries, a perennial, compact sub­shrub  growing to 3’ x3’ ○ Very drought tolerant once established and does not spread ○ Pineapple scented and edible leaves and flowers ○ Leaves used medicinally in teas to relive indigestion and as a general tonic ○ Excellent plant for butterfly garden  Yerba Mate: Ilex paraguayensis ○ Native to Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil ○ Large evergreen shrub, drought tolerant when established (6­ 10’ zone 7) ○ Leaves used for tea popular among millions of South Americans ○ High caffeine content,  ○ plant used as a stimulant, antidepressant; highly diuretic ○ Traditional healthful beverage of the Guarani  Shrub Verbana, Banderita: Lantana camara ○ Native to Tropical Americas, some 150 species through Americans and Africa ○ Exceptionally drought tolerant, fast growing, woody perennial ○ Easily acquired at local nurseries ○ Can grow very large (10’ x 10’) with regular irrigation ○ Guarani of Paraguay and Uruguay make use of the plant to reduce fevers, as a  diuretic.  Chiapas Maya use it to treat stomach conditions.  Woody stems are  also used for kindling ○ Exceptionally floriferous plant for butterfly gardens, hummingbirds ○ Propagated by seed or stem cutting  Century Plant, Maguey: Agave Americana ○ Agave spp. Primarily found in arid areas of US, Mexica, and Central and South  America ○ Many ethnobotanical uses:  ▪ Sisil (twine) ▪ Drinks (Pluque, tequila, mescal) ▪ Edible flowers  ▪ Flower stalks ▪ Sweetners ▪ Sap of various spp. has medicinal uses: laxative, diuretic, reduce swelling ▪ also used for live fencing  ▪ ornamental  Root beer Plant, Hoja Santa: Piper auritum ○ A spreading perennial plant that grows 3­4’ high (zone 7) and ranges from  Mexico to Colombia ○ Fragrant anise/clove­scented leaves high in safrole ○ Used in Mexico to wrap tamales, fish, etc. and flavor mole verde in Oaxaca  ○ Also used in central Mexico added to chocolate drinks in SE Mexico to make  liquor called Verdin ○ Called “sacred leaf” in Mexico because plant is said to have been used to hang  infant Jesus’s diapers to dry ○ Close relative to Piper methysticum and Piper nigrum


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