The use of plants in the medical system of the Fulni-ô people (NE Brazil): A perspective on age and gender

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Abstract

Objectives: The loss of traditional knowledge and practices is currently a widely discussed topic in the academic literature. From this perspective, this study was constructed with the main goals of evaluating Fulni-ô Indians' knowledge about medicinal plants and how this knowledge is influenced by age and gender. Additionally, this study seeks to identify the sites where these resources are collected. Methods: In order to meet our intended objectives, we performed a stratified sampling of the population; 344 indigenous persons were interviewed in an open-ended format. Results: Although a total of 245 ethnospecies were mentioned overall, more than 50% of these plants were known by no more than three indigenous persons, which could indicate that such knowledge was not widely shared. Evaluating the influence of age, we identified a strong tendency for older persons to know more about medicinal plants than those in younger age groups. However, a critical analysis of the informants' age groups demonstrated that significant differences were present only among some of these groups. The oldest group of indigenous people (>75 years) had inferior knowledge about medicinal plants and the diversity of the ethnospecies they cited was similar to the younger age groups. In relation to gender, men cited a total of 196 different ethnospecies and 82 of these species were exclusive to their group. Also, men have their specific ethnospecies not mentioned by women. Women cited 165 species and 51 were exclusive to their group. This indicates that although women generally held less knowledge of ethnospecies than the men, they did discuss a set of ethnospecies that were not mentioned by men. However, men on average cited more ethnospecies than women and this data support the existence of differences between the sexes. Conclusions: Despite the lack of substantial variation in the number of ethnospecies cited by men and women on the individual level, the differences between the sexes as groups were significant. Diverse collection sources were used to attend to the therapeutic needs of the Fulni-ô Indians. Among the most important collection sites, anthropogenic areas were the primary collection sites for women, followed by the Ouricuri Forest, which was the main collection site for male indigenous persons. © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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APA

De Albuquerque, U. P., Soldati, G. T., Sieber, S. S., Ramos, M. A., De Sá, J. C., & De Souza, L. C. (2011). The use of plants in the medical system of the Fulni-ô people (NE Brazil): A perspective on age and gender. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 133(2), 866–873. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2010.11.021

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