As vivid as a weed... medicinal and cosmetic plant uses amongst the urban youth in French Guiana.
Ethnopharmacological relevance: French Guiana is a French overseas territory with a rich history of migration that has led to a highly intercultural society. Today, its population is one of the youngest in the French territory and is rapidly increasing. Despite a context of cultural revival seeking "tradition", a distanced baseline of local practices is still lacking. This work addresses some aspects of the cultural hybridizations in progress in urban areas. Methods: Semi directed interviews were conducted with willing participants aged between 18 and 40. Interviews took place in French Guiana's two main urban centres: Cayenne and Saint Laurent du Maroni. People were interviewed about the last medicinal plant they used in the preceding year. Due to the high use of plant baths in French Guiana, a focus was made on baths. Results and discussion: Eighty-three people answered: 43 women and 40 men (mean age of 28.7 years old). In total, 226 remedies were counted in our study, 155 single plant remedies and 71 compound remedies leading to 316 use reports of plants from 16 cultural groups. A surprising number of 108 botanical species were recorded. Eighty-one recipes for baths were also collected. Despite this high citation rate, a rather low proportion of people declare a systematic and regular recourse upon local pharmacopoeia (46%; 38/83). Although many interviewees used plants, far from the majority used them on a regular basis. In practice, 50% of the species (54/108 spp.; 99/316 URs) are non-native but domesticated exotic species, imported from Asia, Europe, Africa or remote parts of America, either during colonization, the slave trade era, or more recently with the latest migrations. Conclusion: Although phytotherapy use is often thought to be related to countryside dwellers and older people, medicinal plants seem to play an important role in the lives of urban French Guianese youth. Research shows a large diversity of medicinal species used linked with the great cultural diversity of the Guianese cities. One characteristic of this population is the hybridization process leading to a perpetual renewal of practices, both in terms of species and practice.