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Cross-cultural adaptation in urban ethnobotany: The Colombian folk pharmacopoeia in London

Ceuterick, Melissa, Vandebroek, Ina, Torry, Bren, Pieroni, Andrea
Journal of ethnopharmacology 2008 v.120 no.3 pp. 342-359
urban population, ethnobotany, medicinal plants, cross cultural studies, traditional medicine, social adjustment, immigrants, surveys, Columba, United Kingdom
Aim of the study: To investigate traditional health care practices and changes in medicinal plant use among the growing Colombian community in London. Materials and methods: Ethnobotanical fieldwork consisted of qualitative, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 23 Colombians living in London and botanical identification of 46 plant species actively used as herbal remedies. Subsequently, research data were compared with literature on ethnobotany and traditional herbal medicine in the home country, using a framework on cross-cultural adaptation, adjusted for the purpose of this study. Results: Similarities and discrepancies between data and literature are interpreted as potential indicators of continuity and loss (or deculturation) of traditional remedies, respectively. Remedies used in London that are not corroborated by the literature suggest possible newly acquired uses. Conclusions: Cross-cultural adaptation related to health care practices is a multifaceted process. Persistence, loss and incorporation of remedies into the Colombian folk pharmacopoeia after migration are influenced by practical adaptation strategies as well as by symbolic-cultural motives of ethnic identity.