4 years ago

Use of cultivated plants and non-plant remedies for human and animal home-medication in Liubań district, Belarus

Iryna Vasilyeva, Siarhei Vyskvarka, Yana Knureva, Yulia Litvinava, Aliaksandra Shrubok, Yanina Hrynevich, Raivo Kalle, Renata Sõukand, Hanna Silivonchyk, Jury Paciupa, Alena Paulava, Aliaksei Hlushko, Tatsiana Valodzina, Mare Kõiva, Julia Prakofjewa



To use any domestic remedy, specific knowledge and skills are required. Simple logic dictates that the use of wild plants in the context of limited interaction with nature requires prior identification, while in the case of non-plant remedies and cultivated plants this step can be omitted. This paper aims to document the current and past uses of non-plant remedies and cultivated plants in the study region for human/animal medication; to analyze the human medicinal and veterinary use areas in the context of the remedy groups; to qualitatively compare the results with relevant historical publications; and to compare the intensity and purpose of use between the remedy groups.


During field studies 134 semi-structured interviews were conducted with locals from 11 villages in the Liubań district of Belarus. Currently used home-remedies as well as those used in the past were documented by employing the folk history method. The subject was approached through health-related uses, not by way of remedies. Interview records were digitalized and structured in Detailed Use Records in order to ascertain local perceptions. An Informant Consensus Factor (FIC) was calculated for remedy groups as well as for different use categories.


In the human medication area the use of nearby remedies was neither very diverse nor numerous: 266 DUR for 45 taxa belonging to 27 families were recorded for cultivated plants along with 188 DUR for 58 different non-plant remedies. The FIC values for both remedy groups were lower than for wild plants. In the ethnoveterinary medicine use area there were 48 DUR referring to the use of 14 cultivated plant taxa from 12 families and 72 DUR referring to the use of 31 non-plant remedies. The FIC value for the whole veterinary use area of cultivated plants was relatively low, yet similar to the FIC of wild plants.


Differences between remedy groups were pronounced, indicating that in domestic human medicine cultivated plants and non-plant remedies are either remarkably less important than wild ones or not considered worth talking about. In ethnoveterinary medicine non-plant remedies are almost equally important as wild plants, while cultivated plants are the least used. People in study area seem to still more often rely on, or are more willing to talk to strangers about, wild plants, as promoted by both official medicine and popular literature.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s13002-017-0183-6

DOI: 10.1186/s13002-017-0183-6

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