An ethnomedicinal survey on phytotherapy with professionals and patients from Basic Care Units in the Brazilian Unified Health System

Author(s): Oliveira SGD, Moura FRR, Demarco FF, Nascente PS, Del Pino FAB, et al.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: In this study, an ethnomedicinal survey was conducted in the city of Pelotas, Brazil, with professionals and patients in the Unified Health System (SUS). With the approval of the National Policy on Medicinal Plants and Herbal Medicines, and with the adoption of a National Policy on Integrative and Complementary Practices in the SUS in Brazil, there is growing concern regarding Brazilian medicinal plants and their proper use in medicine. The expansion of the therapeutic options offered to the users of the SUS includes access to medicinal plants and herbal drugs, as well as related services, such as phytotherapy. For improving health and for the social inclusion of phytotherapies, safety, efficacy, and quality are important strategies.

Materials and methods: Interviews of both professionals and patients were conducted at five Basic Care Units, and a sample size of 393 was obtained.

Results: Of the patients attending the Basic Care Units, 91.6% had experienced the use of medicinal plants at least once to treat certain diseases. Of the professionals, 65% had used medicinal plants but only 10% prescribed phytotherapeutics to their patients. Generally, the users were homemakers (26%) of the female gender (71.5%) who were older than 60 years (26%) and had a family income between 1 and 2 Brazilian minimal salaries. The professionals were predominantly female (80%), and a high proportion (80%) believed in the positive effects of phytotherapy (80%), even though these professionals had not been taught phytotherapy as undergraduate students (75%) and had not discussed the topic with their teachers (85%). Patients (81.5%) and professionals (45%) reported that their knowledge of medicinal plants came from their parents or grandparents. From a total of 66 different herbs used by the subjects, mauve (24%) was the most commonly used, often to treat toothaches (24.2%).

Conclusion: It is concluded that a high proportion of users and professionals made use of medicinal plants, and of the large number of plants mentioned in the questionnaire, mauve was the most commonly used, mainly for the treatment of toothaches. The major source of the transmission of knowledge concerning herbal medicine was parents or grandparents.

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