Cross-cultural adaptation in urban ethnobotany: the colombian folk pharmacopoeia in london

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Journal of Ethnopharmacology 120 (2008) 342–359

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Cross-cultural adaptation in urban ethnobotany: The Colombian folk pharmacopoeia in London
Melissa Ceuterick a,∗ , Ina Vandebroek b , Bren Torry a , Andrea Pieroni a
a b

Division of Pharmacy Practice, Universityof Bradford, Richmond Building, Richmond Road, Bradford BD7 1DP, West Yorkshire, UK Institute of Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458, USA

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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-culturaladaptation, 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 carepractices 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. © 2008 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 10 March 2008 Received in revised form 14 August 2008 Accepted 4September 2008 Available online 18 September 2008 Keywords: Urban ethnobotany Cross-cultural adaptation Literature survey Colombians London

1. Introduction When people move to urban areas they often bring along their medical traditions, despite the widespread availability of conventional allopathic health care (Balick et al., 2000; Han, 2000; Balick and Lee, 2001; Corlett et al., 2003; Pieroni et al.,2005, 2007a; Pieroni and Vandebroek, 2007). Traditional medicine includes the use of plant-based remedies and non-medication practices such as spiritual healing therapies to maintain well-being, as well as to treat, diagnose or prevent illness (WHO, 2002). The dynamics of traditional plant use within migrant communities in a city environment, and the changes these medical systems undergo whentransplanted from one cultural context to another are studied within the field of urban ethnobotany (Pieroni and Vandebroek, 2007). The present article aspires to contribute to this novel discipline by exploring potential changes in the folk pharmacopoeia of Colombians living in London, United Kingdom (UK). Despite laudable efforts to improve trans-cultural health care policies (Torry, 2005), the studyof health care practices in the UK among minority ethnic groups originating from outside the former Commonwealth, has been largely overlooked (Ceuterick et al., 2007). However,

∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +32 476016210; fax: +44 1274 234769. E-mail address: (M. Ceuterick). 0378-8741/$ – see front matter © 2008 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.09.004

in light of the increasing numbers of people originating from the Andean region, with Colombians being the most numerous, research into this community and its specific health care issues in the UK is urgent and relevant (Mcilwaine, 2005). To date, British health policies have been mainly based upon assimilationist principles, which depart from the paradigm that inequalities...
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