Thursday, 29 October 2015

Bulgarian medical ethnobotany: The power of plants in pragmatic and poetic frames

Department of Botany, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Blvd. Dragan Tsankov 8, Sofia, Bulgaria


Located in the heart of the Balkans, Bulgaria is a country with a rich flora and a crossroads of historical and sociocultural circumstances. The folk medicine of the ancient Thracians, the Middle Ages, the Bulgarian Bogomil movement, the period of the Ottoman Empire and the Bulgarian Renaissance in the late eighteenth century are the periods that formed the main features of Bulgarian medical ethnobotany. The main components in written folk remedies are medicinal plants, followed by animals and animal products such as honey, eggs, leeches, blood, musk, etc., and mineral elements (S, Hg, Au, Fe). Through the centuries, traditional medicine has more or less been integrated into the structure, expression and functions of traditional rituals. Many of the common names of plants reflect the curative effect of the plant or its use for a group of symptoms or diseases. The traditional use of medicinal plants in the past was more precise and more oriented to the Eastern plants and medicine than the traditional ideas and attitudes of society. The empirical data of medicinal plants and traditional herbal drugs are passed on from one generation to another mostly as oral folklore. Data from the local people, collected and processed using modern methods and compared to historical written records, outline significant continuity and preservation of traditional ethnobotanical knowledge, which is also affected by the contemporary pressure of information. These processes cannot be stopped, but they could be opposed to a strong and attractive process of interest in the traditional plant-based healing practices. The change in thinking and philosophy of the contemporary individual towards a life oriented to nature through recognition of complementary and alternative medicine and the search for identity in the processes of globalization through the development of ecotourism are the opportunity given to us for presenting traditional ethnobotanical knowledge as current, necessary and important in our contemporary daily life. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York. All rights reserved.

Author keywords

Bulgaria; Ethnobotany; Folk medicine; Folk traditional knowledge; Herbs; Medicinal plants
ISBN: 978-149391492-0;149391491X;978-149391491-3Source Type: Book Original language: English
DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1492-0_4Document Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Springer New York