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October 2021

J Ethnopharmacol. 1980 Dec; 2(4): 365-88.

A study of the medical ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians of New Mexico.

Camazine S, Bye RA.

This paper examines the medical ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians of west-central New Mexico. Historically, these people were hunters and gatherers, and later, farmers and sheepherders. They developed an extensive knowledge of the local flora and a complex religious rite and system of medical practice. Now, as customs and values of Western societies encroach upon their lifestyle, the Zuni's knowledge of the medicinal use of plants is in danger of being forgotten. Field work conducted during the summers of 1977 and 1978 with the Zuni involved interviews with 27 Zuni medicine men and elders and the collection of 138 plant species. For 49 species a medicinal use was described. These remedies were examined in detail to determine their pharmacological and physiological action and their cultural significance. A total of 31 medicinal plants collected in this study were not mentioned in the Zuni ethnobotanical study by Stevenson over 60 years earlier. This may reflect a difficulty in recording all the plant remedies of a culture rather than an acquisition of new remedies since that time. The use of herbal remedies today and the knowledge of their use in the past has diminished.

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