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Phytother Res. 2005 Jul;19(7):633-42.

The use of health foods, spices and other botanicals in the Sikh community in London.

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Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK.


Attitudes and practice concerning complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are currently an area of considerable interest. However, little is known about the overall importance of such practices, for example, in immigrant communities such as the Sikh (Punjabi) British. The use of CAM in immigrants belonging to the Sikh religion in London was studied. The primary objective was to analyse the extent to which traditional medicine is used and understood by this population. Traditional Sikh medicine is important to this group of informants and a total of 42 species were recorded and identified tentatively. The most frequently mentioned species were Allium cepa (onion -- gunda), Allium sativum (garlic -- lasan, thon), Capsicum frutescens (cayenne pepper -- lalmirch), Cinnamomum verum (cinnamom--dhal chini), Citrus limon (lemon -- nimbu), Foeniculum vulgare (fennel -- saunf), Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom -- elaichi) and Zingiber officinale (ginger -- adrak). The study also highlights the rapid change this tradition is undergoing in a diaspora situation. In depth studies on the use of CAM among other immigrant communities and among ethnic groups are urgent and may help to manage better the treatment of minor ailments as well as chronic diseases. Specifically, more research on traditional and herbal remedies amongst the numerous ethnic groups in urban Britain and how this impacts on the use of biomedicine (e.g. as it is provided by the NHS) is essential.

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