Indigenous and Western Medical Practices in the Peruvian Amazon

Date and Time: 
Friday, 13 April, 2012 - 22:10 to 22:30
BARRIGA, Jose - Department of Biological Sciences, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Timothy SECOTT, Ph.D. - Minnesota State University, Mankato
Teressa TRUSTY, Ph.D. - Florida International University
Devon GRAHAM, Ph.D. - Florida International University

The Amazon basin, a floristically mega-diverse area, is home to diverse cultures that rely primarily on medicinal plants as a source of health care. For many indigenous groups of the Peruvian Amazon, the knowledge to heal belongs to revered individuals or shamans. However, researchers believe that the number of healers and the dependence on medicinal plants are decreasing due to religious and educational efforts, which tend to discredit the value of indigenous knowledge, as well as the incorporation of pharmaceuticals. In North East Peru, twenty households were surveyed in three different communities; one community belongs to the Yagua ethnic group and the other two are Mestizo. Data suggests that, although there is a decrease in the practice of traditional healing, the knowledge and use of medicinal plants is still widespread, regardless of ethnic background. Furthermore, there is an economy-favored syncretism in the use patterns of traditional medicine and pharmaceuticals.