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What is Ethnobotany? Dr. Daiva Šeškauskaitė.

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Presentation on theme: "What is Ethnobotany? Dr. Daiva Šeškauskaitė."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Ethnobotany? Dr. Daiva Šeškauskaitė

2 Ethnobotany Ethnobotany is the study of the relationship between (uses of) plants and people / cultures: From ethno - study of people and botany - study of plants. Ethnobotany is considered a branch of ethnobiology.

3 Ethnobotany Ethnobotany is the study of how people of a particular culture and region make of use of indigenous plants. Ethnobotanists explore how plants are used for such things as food, shelter, medicine, clothing, hunting, divination, cosmetics, dyeing, textiles, construction, tools, currency, literature, rituals, social life, religious ceremonies.

4 Ethnobotany Society Ethnobiology is the study of the relationships between humans and their biological worlds. The purpose of Society is to gather and disseminate knowledge of ethnobiology, and to foster an ongoing appreciation for the richness of ethnobiology worldwide.

5 Ethnobotany The focus of ethnobotany is on how plants have been or are used, managed and perceived in human societies.

6 Ethnobotany and botany
The educational objective of the Ethnobotany Track is to provide a unique learning environment in which biological and social science theorie’s are integrated to train trans disciplinarity.


8 As an ethnobotanist you will be able to
Work in areas related to the conservation of biological and cultural diversity: Cultural resource management (major land holders managing biological resources for cultural and community purposes, Consultancy for cultural and environmental impact, Work in Parks Service, Tourism, Museums, Fish & Wildlife, Department of Land & Natural Resources, Non-government Conservation Organizations, etc

9 As an ethnobotanist you will be able to
Work in natural health care businesses and practices: Development of new botanical products for industry and community ventures. Laboratory and field research for pharmaceutical and herbal product companies. Non-industrial consultancy for biotechnology work related to traditional medicinal practices

10 As an ethnobotanist you will be able to
Enter advanced medical training programs: Schools of Allopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, and Nursing. Schools of Naturopathic Medicine, Acupuncture, and Herbalism


12 Ethnobotany and botany
Ethnobotany has its roots in botany, the study of plants. Botany, in turn, originated in part from an interest in finding plants to help fight illness. In fact, medicine and botany have always had close ties. Many of today's drugs have been derived from plant sources.

13 Hyoscyamus niger Wikipedia:

14 Naturaly plant sources
Pharmacognosy is the study of medicinal and toxic products from natural plant sources. At one time, pharmacologists researching drugs were required to understand the natural plant world, and physicians were schooled in plant-derived remedies.

15 Naturaly plant sources
However, as modern medicine and drug research advanced, chemically-synthesized drugs replaced plants as the source of most medicinal agents in industrialized countries. Although research in plant sources continued and plants were still used as the basis for some drug development, the dominant interest shifted to the laboratory.

16 Naturaly plant sources
The 1990's has seen a growing shift in interest once more; plants are re-emerging as a significant source of new pharmaceuticals. Industries are now interested in exploring parts of the world where plant medicine remains the predominant form of dealing with illness.

17 Naturaly plant sources
To discover the practical potential of native plants, an ethnobotanist must have knowledge not only in the study of plants themselves, but must also understand and be sensitive to the dynamics of how cultures work.

18 Ethnobotany is multidisciplinary
Ethnobotanists help us to understand the frightening results which loss of the rain forests would bring not only in terms of consequent loss of knowledge about tropical plants, but the consequent damage brought on by the loss of native cultures in their entirety, as well as the damage to the earth's ecological health.

19 Ethnobotany is multidisciplinary
This multidisciplinary approach gives ethnobotanists more insight into the management of tropical forest reserves in a period of tremendous environmental stress.

20 Ethnobotany and other science
Ethnobotany is connected in such areas as: archeology, chemistry, ecology, anthropology, linguistics, history, pharmacology, sociology, religion and mythology. Ethnobotanists work respectfully with shamans within the native culture, examining that culture's concepts of disease.

21 Ethnobotanist Work with the use of ancient plants as medicinal agents as well as with religious or sacred activities.


23 Ethnobotanist receive some cross training in anthropology, botany, public health, or relevant social sciences. must possess a genuine receptivity to the distinctly unique views of the healing systems practiced by indigenous peoples, as well as the ability to work as a team with ethnobotanists and others.

24 How does an ethnobotanist work?
together with shamans or traditional healers to identify the specific diseases common to both Western cultures and indigenous peoples.

25 How does an ethnobotanist work?
Often the traditional knowledge about the plants can be obtained only by specialists within an indigenous community-for example the shamans, beekeepers, and master fisherman. Ethnobotanists sometimes obtain information that may even be kept from the rest of the native community. This brings up some ethical issues on ownership to the plant information.

26 Ethnobotany into the Future
Field ethnobotanist’s have not yet received the same level of support and respect, primarily because interest in this field has only just re-emerged. New scientific journals and societies have begun to disseminate the studies of the ethnobotanist’s to peers, other scientists, and policy makers worldwide.

27 Ethnobotany into the Future
Due to increased public interest and policy making in conservation, companies are looking to plants for new approaches to food, medicines, and energy sources. University departments are opening positions for interdisciplinary-trained ethnobotanist’s. The future looks promising for these dedicated scientists in a fascinating and vital field of research.

28 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Folk medicine is a part of Lithuanian traditional culture. It contains information not only about illnesses, but also methods of healing, how to avoid illness, protect health, heal wounds and patient care.

29 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Much attention is paid to pregnant women, birthing aids and newborn care.

30 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Folk medicine contains much information about normal body changes – maturity, old age, pregnancy, body anatomy, physiology.

31 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Lithuanian ancestors tried to explain what is illness, its causes. They knew how to avoid illnesses and how to foretell the possibility of illnesses.

32 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Folk medicine discover illnesses as malfunctioning of internal organs, infections, inherited diseases and even diseases due to influences of people and events.

33 Some illnesses were caused by water, earth, worms found in the body, from fleas, snakes, frogs or birds who had gotten into the body.

34 Lithuanian Folk medicine
It was believed that a person became ill after killing a snake. A snake can enter the body through the mouth while the person is asleep and make him ill. Fleas found on the body will make the person waste away A snake can enter

35 There is also a belief from ancient times that a person has a headache because his combed out and cut hair is thrown out and is collected by birds that build nests with that hair.

36 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Cosmic and atmospheric occurrences were held as sources of illnesses. It was believed that man can become ill from moonlight and that solar and lunar eclipses are injurious to health due to fallout of dangerous mists.

37 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Man sleeping under the light of the moon would sleepwalk, climb over fences and even roofs. It was forbidden to awaken a sleepwalker, call to him, for when awakened he could fall and be killed. To keep moonlight out of children’s rooms, a doll was placed in the window.

38 Lithuanian Folk medicine
The belief that wind brings illness remains throughout the country. A vortex can be responsible for very serious and varied illnesses, to people and animals as well. This wind causes dizziness and paralysis.

39 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Skin problems come from other causes. It was thought that carbuncles were caused by dog scratches and herpes occurred when crossing fields where horses rolled. Pimples appear from spring water florescence, thus one avoided washing in it.

40 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Ancient beliefs show that God was responsible for sending illnesses to earth. This was done so that people would not fear Death. Man is first visited by illness, and then he is taken by Death. Illness was given the image of a supernatural woman.

41 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Before the plague of Black Death, beings walking about resembled women, bareheaded with narrow eyes, dressed all in white. They were seen near peoples’ doors, breaking windows appeared in dreams calling people by their names. Those who answered their calls, died instantly.

42 Lithuanian Folk medicine
Evil spirits turned into dogs, bats, were causes of illness in people, frightening and stealing from them. They ambushed by hiding in trees, soil and water. Evil souls, who took up residence in man’s body, were the cause of pneumonia, tuberculosis, heart problems, Black Death and cholera. By kissing people at night, they would make them ill.

43 IIlnesses The sources of most illnesses were varied, sorcery practices, giving and leaving bewitched foods, tying grain with bewitched knots. Folk doctors grouped illnesses according to age and sex of the sick, also to nature of the disease.

44 The Witch Different pains start when witches send shots into the body. Witches disturbed children’s sleep, also made them ill, frightening them and casting evil eyes. Evil eyes were also injurious to adult health. It was deleterious to step over a person, especially a child, for then he would not grow and would not be well.

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