Brazilian traditional medicine
Traditional Brazilian medicine (Portuguese: Medicina indígena) includes many native South American elements, and imported African ones. It is predominant where indigenous groups and among the black-Native American mestizo population, and in the Northeast coast, nearly all interior regions including Amazon regions, savannahs, rainforest, foothills, and Pantanal. According to Dr. Romulo R. N. Alves, "although Brazil's health system is public...use of traditional remedies and rituals provide an economical way of healing for much of the populace, but that also does not mean that wealthy Brazilians don't seek it out as well. Traditional medicine is a deep part of Brazilian heritage."
The Aruak, Tupi, Yamomami, Krahô, Guarani and other Indians groups are among the native tribes that together with isolated descendants of Africans or Quilombola, and Indians integrated (Caboclo) that are known to almost exclusively practice traditional medicine. Among the plants include edible foods like the cashew, peppers, mangosteen and coconut, but often include inedible parts like the fruits, leaves, husk, bark. Neighboring nations like the Patamona of Guyana also use the cashew.
There is growing interest in Brazilian medicine as the Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical forest in the world, and is home to immense biodiversity, including cures or treatments for many ailments. Japanese scientists have found strong anticancer activity in Brazilian traditional remedies. In one study in 1997 published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, only 122 species existing in Brazil could be related to the Chinese species (or 14.35% of the samples)., which means the vast majority of species are not known to Chinese traditional medicine. Thousands and possibly millions of species remain unstudied and/or susceptible to extinction by habitat destruction.
Examples of modern studies of Brazilian medicine the Acai Palm contains antioxidants active against leukemia. Alchornea glandulosa is used to treat assorted skin diseases, diarrhea, inflammations, leprosy and rheuma. Scientific studies have confirmed most of these effects, and also found extracts of certain species to kill off trypanosoma, some bacteria and fungi, and cancer cells.
Vacina do sapo (frog vaccine) is a secretion from the giant leaf frog used by indigenous groups, such as the Asháninka, that is injected into the bloodstream and used in traditional medicine to ward off bad luck, however, only recently have multiple patents are pending for use against ischemia and hepatic injury.
The Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress Group at the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Medicine and Nursing at the University of the Basque Country has published a study where traditionally infused Vismia baccifera has shown massive induction of oxidative stress in kidney cancer cells, with rapid death, but leaving healthy cells alone.
- Health in Brazil
- Healthcare in Brazil
- Indigenous peoples in Brazil
- List of plants of Amazon Rainforest vegetation of Brazil
- Traditional medicine
- Tropical medicine
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- A comprehensive look at the use of animals in Brazilian medicine
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