Knowledge of traditional medicine to the rescue

Knowledge of traditional medicine to the rescue

• University student Joseline Hernandez Hernandez is conducting research on preserving information about plants used to treat diabetes.
• Recent generations are not interested in learning herbal medicine, he warned.

Knowledge of traditional medicine to the rescue

Student of the Department of Industrial Chemistry of the Faculty of Higher Studies (FES) of Cuautitlán UNAM, Joseline Hernández Hernández, is developing a project Biological chemical study of plant resources used in traditional medicine by healers from the municipality of Benito Juárez, Veracruz, in particular. for the treatment of diabetes.

“My job is to rescue the valuable knowledge that those involved in this practice have regarding the use, preparation and application of medicinal plants,” he emphasized in an interview.

On the advice of Brigida del Carmen University teacher Camacho Enriquez, she went to the towns of Huecuatitla, La Reforma and Tlatlapango Grande in the municipality of Benito Juarez, Veracruz, where, with the help of 11 local therapists – 10 women and one man – she collected 21 medicinal plants that are used in those places for the treatment of a disease.

Joseline Hernandez, who received the 2022 Gustavo Baz Prada Social Service Award for this project in recognition of her outstanding work and commitment to the community, recalled that this is a chronic non-communicable disease, a health problem that significantly affects the population.

It is one of the three leading causes of death in Mexico. According to interviewed representatives of the above-mentioned population groups, it is increasing in this region due to the rapid transition from rural areas to the adoption of eating habits from urban areas, sedentary lifestyles and difficulties in accessing healthcare. “It is known as urine or blood sugar, and according to traditional medicine it is associated with fright or muina.”

Hernandez Hernandez also noted that the therapists or healers interviewed indicated that they gained their knowledge of herbalism, its uses, collection, and possible contraindications through dreams; others inherited them from mothers or grandmothers who also practiced it.

In the case of his research, he noted that most people involved in this activity are over 70 years of age, a significant number have been doing this work for over 50 years, and many young people from the above-mentioned communities are not willing to continue the tradition.

A university student noticed that the amount of work they do has decreased, as has the understanding of plants, because doctors go to these communities and, above all, because recent generations are not interested in learning herbal medicine, since it is easier to go to a doctor or health center for receiving medical care.

In the past, the work of herbalists was important, as was the work of midwives; In the latter case, some women do not want to give birth at home and go to the hospital, he noted.

Here are 21 plants collected by Joseline Hernandez in collaboration with interviewees, some of whose common names remain in Nahuatl without translation into Spanish: Carta de serena, Chichikxohuitl, Kosolmecatl, Ojoxijtli, Pemuch, Guásima, Chichiyajtli, Mango, Palo blue, Pionchi, Tri leaves, Horsetail, Mozotl, Snake Stick, Pig Trunk, Chichijtli, Soursop, Nopal, Cow’s Leg, Yuca and Small Zapote.

It is important to note that plants do not contain the same active ingredients throughout the year and cannot be harvested continuously; This is a difficult task that traditional doctors perform when collecting them.

He pointed out that the results of the study remained in principle in a bilingual catalog that documented the information collected and the importance of preserving the Nahuatl language; However, it is also necessary to know the side effects of the plants.

In this sense, he indicated that the 21 collected specimens were taken to the Herbarium of the FES Cuautitlán, where they will be studied to obtain taxonomy and their names in Spanish, in order to learn more about them and document them.


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