Thursday, 26 May 2016

Phylogeny of medicinal plants depicts cultural convergence among immigrant groups in New York City (Article)

Volume 6, Issue 1, 1 March 2016, Pages 1-11

Department of Biology, Long Island University-Brooklyn, 1 University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY, United States


New York City (NYC) has a diverse range of immigrant populations that consequently brought to the city their traditional herbal knowledge. Medicinal plants have been used by different cultures worldwide, long before the development of pharmaceuticals. Studying the traditional uses of plants in a phylogenetic framework can help determine pharmacologically important plant families. A phylogeny of common medicinal plant species sold in NYC and traditionally used in Ayurvedic/Indian, Chinese, Latin/Caribbean, Middle Eastern/Islamic, and African cultures has been reconstructed, and the traditional medicinal function of each plant was mapped on the phylogeny. The results showed that the plant families Apiaceae, Burseraceae, Combretaceae, Fabaceae, Lamiaceae, Lauraceae, Malvaceae, Meliaceae, Rubiaceae, and Zingiberaceae have disproportionate importance to herbal medicine in NYC, and collectively, show applications for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal, gynecological conditions, and as antibiotic/anti-parasitic agents. Our study has demonstrated that different immigrant groups converge on related plants for similar ailments. This cultural convergence, possibly through independent discoveries of these plants' medicinal uses, suggests that there may be underlying bioactivity that should be further explored. Our study also highlights the utility of phylogenetic analysis in uncovering new medicinal applications and novel therapeutic sources. Addition of more plant species to the phylogeny may uncover plant families that could be medicinally important for other applications or health conditions. © 2015 Elsevier GmbH.

Author keywords

Drug discovery; Herbal medicine; Natural product; Traditional medicine
ISSN: 22108033Source Type: Journal Original language: English
DOI: 10.1016/j.hermed.2015.12.002Document Type: Article
Publisher: Elsevier GmbH

  Molina, J.; Department of Biology, Long Island University-Brooklyn, 1 University Plaza, United States;
© Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.