Ethnopharmacology is a component of Encyclopedia of Biological, Physiological and Health Sciences in the global Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), which is an integrated compendium of twenty one Encyclopedias.
Ethnopharmacology is the scientific study correlating ethnic groups, their health, and how it relates to their physical habits and methodology in creating and using medicines. This Theme on Ethnopharmacology presents the field as an amalgam of perspectives, primarily those of pharmacology, pharmacognosy, anthropology, and botany. It highlights the uniquely biocultural perspective on ethnopharmacology offered by medical anthropology, which underscores that health and healing are culturally constructed and socially negotiated. The definition of ethnopharmacology that frames this volume is: the study of indigenous medical systems that connects the ethnography of health and healing with the physiological relevance of its medical practices. The history of botanical medicines is traced from primate self-medication to contributions to biomedicine. The methods of ethnopharmacologic inquiry are presented from pharmacologic, ecological, ethnographic, data management, and ethical perspectives. Chapters are devoted to plants used in the treatment of specific disorders: cancer, parasitic infection, AIDS, inflammation, diabetes, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders. The important role that plant medicines play in the developing world is revealed in discussion of ritual and ceremony, safety issues, health care, and biodiversity.
These two volumes are aimed at the following a wide spectrum of audiences from the merely curious to those seeking in-depth knowledge: University and College students Educators, Professional practitioners, Research personnel and Policy analysts, managers, and decision makers and NGOs.
Dr. Elaine Elisabetsky, Ethnopharmacologist and Professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil) researched and taught four ten years at the Brazilian Amazon. Her focus of research includes ethnopharmacology among cablocos (rural peasants), Amerindian Peoples (Guajajara and Kayapó), and rubber tappers (extractive reserves) communities, conservation and sustainable development. She has given specific notice to locally held concepts of health and disease, and stressed that a culturally relativistic perspective is necessary in conducting ethnopharmacologic field and laboratory work. She has developed plant selection criteria that combine traditional knowledge and working hypothesis for pharmacologic scrutiny aiming to maximize the potential for successful drug development based on ethnopharmacologic collections. She specializes in identifying and characterizing psychopharmacologic properties of medicinal plant extracts or isolated compounds. She has been President of the Brazilian Society of Ethnobiology and Ethnoecology, and International Society for Ethnopharmacologyn, and was a founding member for the International Society of Ethnopharmacology and the International Society of Ethnobiology. She is part of the editorial board of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Phytomedicine, Pharmaceutical Biology and Revista Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais and Evidence Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Nina Etkin is Professor and Graduate Chair, and directs the Medical Anthropology Program, at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her research centers on two domains that are linked through a co-evolutionary theoretical perspective: (1) Studies of ethnomedicine juxtapose ethnographic data on the cultural construction and social negotiation of health to pharmacologic assessments of indigenous plant medicines and foods, in northern Nigeria, eastern Indonesia, and Hawai’i. (2) Investigations of human biological variability focus on the pathophysiology of inherited red blood cell disorders and their protection against malaria infection. Professor Etkin has published extensively, forging intellectual and practical links to understand the dialectic of nature and culture in diverse ecologic and ethnographic settings. She has just completed a book entitled An Ethnopharmacology of Foods. Her edited volumes include Eating on the Wild Side (1994, University of Arizona Press), Plants for Food and Medicine (1998, Kew Royal Botanic Garden), Medicines: Meanings and Contexts. 1994, University of Amsterdam Press), and Plants in Indigenous Medicine and Diet (Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1986). Professor Etkin is past President of the International Society for Ethnopharmacology