This module is an introduction to ethnopharmacology, a multidisciplinary field of study that employs chemistry, ecology, biology, pharmacology and anthropology to evaluate and understand the use of plants (and other substances) in non-western medical systems. While students will be introduced to all of the disciplines involved in ethnopharmacological research, this module will have a heavy anthropological focus. Lecture and reading materials will address questions related to the actions of natural products in the human body, the ecological and evolutionary basis of medicinal plants use, the epistemology of non-western medical systems, the efficacy of medicinal plants and the development of pharmaceuticals based on traditional medicines. Topics discussed in class will provide ideas and models for student research projects. This module should appeal to students with interests in anthropology and/or medical care/research.
This module appears in the following module collections.
BA Social Anthropology
Available as wild
Method of assessment
60% Exam; 40% Coursework
Research Proposal (20%)
Etkin, Nina, ed. 1986. Plants in Indigenous Medicine and Diet: Biobehavioral Approaches. Bedford Hills, NY: Redgrave Publishing Co.
Evans, W. C. 1996. Trease and Evans' Pharmacognosy. London: WB Saunders Company Ltd.
Johns, Timothy 1990. With Bitter Herbs They Shall Eat it: Chemical Ecology and the Origins of Human Diet and Medicine. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
8.1 Understand theoretical concerns, methods, and findings of current theoretical research on medicinal plants.
8.2 Understand how and why medicinal plants affect human physiology.
8.3 Understand the implications of nature, complexity and richness of human diversity and adaptation in health, wellness, illness and death.
8.4 Understand the diverse strategies that humans have developed for dealing with sickness.
8.5 Understand the interaction of social, cultural and biological aspects of human groups.
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