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Abstract

Snakebites and ethnobotany in the Eastern region of Antioquia, Colombia-the traditional use of plants.

Abstract

Ethnopharmacology relevance: Every year, over 4000 ophidian accidents take place in Colombia. The poor distribution and limited availability of antivenom have perpetuated the use of traditional medicine especially in rural communities. The medical care starts with the affected people receiving treatment by healers or shamans who use medicinal plants prepared in different ways. Methods: This investigation was undertaken by conducting enquiries to the renowned healers or plants connoisseurs about the ethnobotany of the ophidian accident. In addition, this study included their experience and the time they have used plants in curing bites or stings by poisonous animals. Furthermore, it embraced the plant species used and the amount applied, the ways of their preparation (maceration or decoction), some application techniques (beverage, bathing, poultice, vapors), and duration of treatment. Results: 29 species of plants were collected and identified. 82.7% of them were native, 27.5% had not been previously reported as antiophidian, and 38% had been employed for this purpose in other geographical areas. Leaves (43.59%) and stems (23.08%) were the components most frequently used in the medicinal preparation, which is usually done by maceration (51.92%) or decoction (25.00%). Conclusions: Throughout this study related to the treatment of snakebite accident, species have been found without any ethnobotanical reports. Moreover, plants being described as new specie and herbs such as Plantago major (Plantaginaceae) used in the treatment of snakebites by many ethnic groups have been found. In addition, herbaceous such as Renealmia alpinia (Zingiberaceae), whose antiophidian activity has been experimentally proven through in vivo and in vitro assays, have been discovered too.