Indigenous healthcare

It has been found that local ethnobotanical knowledge helps keep the Tsimane tribe in Bolivia, fit. The people use plants for medicines, firewood, construction, tools and food. For instance, the sap from stems of a plant Serjania tenuifolia, when released in water bodies, affects fish. They cannot breathe and float on the surface and are then collected for food.

For the research, 21 commonly used plants were identified and participants were asked how each plant could be used. Their replies were compared to those of the older people (above 55 years old). The results, published in the April issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol 104, No 15), showed children with parents who had high knowledge of plants and their use were healthier than the ones whose parents did not have such knowledge.

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