Ethnoveterinary plant remedies used by Nu people in NW Yunnan of China

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BACKGROUND: Nu people are the least populous ethnic group in Yunnan Province of China and most are distributed in Gongshan County, NW Yunnan. Animal production plays an important role in Nu livelihoods and the Nu people have abundant traditional knowledge of animal management and ethnoveterinary practices. This study documents the animal diseases, ethnoveterinary plant remedies and related traditional knowledge in three Nu villages of Gongshan County.<br /><br />METHODS: This study was carried out in three Nu villages of Gongshan County between July 2009 and February 2010. Data was obtained through the use of semi-structured questionnaires, field observation and PRA tools. A total of 60 Nu respondents (34 men and 26 women) provided information on animal ailments and ethnoveterinary plant medicines used for Nu livestock production. Information on traditional ethnoveterinary medicine knowledge and choice of treatment providers was also obtained.<br /><br />RESULTS: Thirty-five animal conditions were identified in the surveyed area. The major and most common animal diseases among livestock were skin conditions, diarrhea, heat, fevers, colds, and parasites. Most ailments occurred between June and August. The ethnoveterinary medicinal use of 45 plant species was documented. Most medicinal species (86.7%) were collected from the wild. The most frequently used plant parts were whole plants (35.6%), followed by roots (22.2%). The most important medicinal plant species were Saussurea costus (Falc.) Lipech. (UV = 0.67), Senecio scandens Buch.-Ham.ex D.Don (UV = 0.67), Plantago depressa Willd. (UV = 0.63), Rubus corchorifolius L. f. (UV = 0.62), Bupleurum yunnanense Franch. (UV = 0.60), and Polygonum paleaceum Wall. (UV = 0.60). Animal diseases treated with the highest number of ethnoveterinary plant remedies were diarrhea (16 plant species), heat, fever, colds (11 plant species), retained afterbirth (11 plant species), and skin conditions and sores (11 plant species). Many Nu villagers (52%) considered traditional remedies their first choice of animal disease treatment. Traditional ethnoveterinary knowledge was related to the local social-cultural characteristics of Nu people and communities.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: Animal production plays an important role in Nu culture and livelihoods, and the Nu ethnic group has abundant traditional knowledge about animal production and ethnoveterinary plant remedies. This traditional knowledge faces the risk of disappearing due to increasing modern veterinary medicine extension, livelihood changes and environment degradation. Animal diseases are a major constraint in livestock production in Nu villages. Thus, some strategies and measures should be adopted in the future, such as further researches on Nu culture and livelihoods, community-based validation of ethnoveterinary medicine and broad network building and knowledge sharing.




Shen, S., Qian, J., & Ren, J. (2010). Ethnoveterinary plant remedies used by Nu people in NW Yunnan of China. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 6.

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