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J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Apr;80(1):75-83.

Ethnophysiology and herbal treatments of intestinal worms in Dominica, West Indies.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia, 107 Swallow Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


In rural Dominican ethnophysiology worms reside in a human organ called the 'worm bag'. Unchecked, worms can cause illness by growing in size and number, spreading out of the worm bag and into other organs. In this study of 'bush medicine', we use a measure of cognitive salience in free-listing tasks, which reveals five plants commonly used to treat intestinal worms. These were Ambrosia hispida (Asteraceae), Aristolochia trilobata (Aristlochiaceae), Chenopodium ambrosioides (Chenopodiaceae), Portulaca oleracea (Portulacaceae), and Artemisia absinthium (Asteraceae). Bioactive compounds appear to be present in all of these plants. The cognitive salience of these plant remedies coupled with evidence of biochemical properties suggest that they provide efficacious treatments for controlling intestinal parasite loads.

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