Available online 7 February 2015
Plants with topical uses in the Ripollès district (Pyrenees, Catalonia, Iberian peninsula): Ethnobotanical survey and pharmacological validation in the literature
The skin is the main structure that protects the human body from environmental factors and has, in addition, a relevant relationship to people's appearance and beauty. Official medicine and cosmetics have shown interest on elaborating products to protect the dermal system, yet the role of folk medicine is highly unknown in this field.
Aims of the study
Taking this into account, we performed an ethnobotanical study in a Catalan district of the eastern Pyrenees (northeast Iberian Peninsula), with the purpose of assessing popular plant knowledge and use. In this paper, we present exclusively the results on topically-used plants. Additionally, we have performed a thorough literature search in order to validate the uses of plants recorded in well-established pharmacological works.
A number of 163 informants (57.7% women and 42.3% men, born between 1915 and 1988, with an average age of 71.6 years) were interviewed by means of 104 semi-structured interviews. Voucher specimens were collected, prepared and deposited in the BCN herbarium.
We collected information on the popular uses implying topical application of 115 plant taxa (three determined at generic level and 112 at specific level), belonging to 92 genera and 51 families. Taxa with use reports higher than 5% included: Arnica montana subsp. montana, Hypericum perforatum, Thymus vulgaris, Lilium candidum and Tussilago farfara. The degree of reliability of the results is very high, as indicated by a big number of report uses (1676) and a very high informant consensus factor (0.93 of a maximum of 1). Topical uses of 21 plant taxa with more than 1% of use reports, have been validated consulting pharmacological literature.
Data indicate a high degree of plant knowledge in the studied region regarding dermal conditions, cosmetics and additional affections (such as snake bite). The present study constitutes a good basis for further phytochemical and pharmacological research, which could be of interest in the design of new drugs. Furthermore, the evidence of these folk uses could be the key information in simplified procedures established by the European Union for the registration of herbal medicinal products based on traditionally used plants, reinforcing the already recognised role of ethnobotany in the mentioned applied research and development field.
- Dermatological disorders;
- Topical use
- Corresponding author.