Medicinal and Edible Plants Used by the Daur People

Jenn Hoskins
25th May, 2024

Medicinal and Edible Plants Used by the Daur People

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study in Inner Mongolia documented 52 medicinal and edible plant species used by the Daur people
  • These plants are primarily used to treat digestive issues, rheumatic immunity problems, infectious diseases, and parasitic infections
  • The research highlights the need to preserve ethnobotanical knowledge, which is at risk of being lost as it is mainly held by older generations
The Daur people, one of China's 55 minority ethnic groups, have a rich tradition of using medicinal and edible plants (MEPs) for health benefits and therapeutic purposes. However, this valuable ethnobotanical knowledge is underreported, posing a challenge for the sustainable development of these MEPs. A recent study conducted by the Inner Mongolia Traditional Chinese & Mongolian Medical Research Institute aims to address this gap by documenting and analyzing the MEPs used by the Daur people and understanding the dynamics that influence their sustainable use[1]. The study involved semi-structured interviews with 122 informants, six focus group discussions, and a resource survey conducted over five years from 2015 to 2020 in Inner Mongolia. The researchers identified 52 species of MEPs and assessed the ethnobotanical knowledge related to these plants. The most commonly used medicinal plant species by the Daur included Betula pendula subsp. mandshurica, Artemisia integrifolia, Crataegus pinnatifida, Saposhnikovia divaricata, Artemisia argyi, and Jacobaea cannabifolia. These plants were primarily used to target digestive and rheumatic immunity systems, as well as infectious diseases, parasitic infections, and other common health issues. The study's findings are significant as they provide insights into the rich phytochemical diversity present in traditional Daur medicine, which can be harnessed for modern health care and dietary practices. The researchers simulated a system dynamics model to understand the multiple feedback mechanisms between cultural influences, socioeconomic factors, sustainable environment, and the development of MEPs. This model highlights the importance of protecting and promoting ethnobotanical knowledge, particularly as it is primarily held by older generations and at risk of being lost. The study's findings align with previous research emphasizing the importance of traditional foods and medicines in various cultures. For instance, the Ilkisonko Maasai community in Kenya heavily relies on traditional medicinal plants for health care, with a strong preference for using natural remedies to treat ailments such as stomach aches, joint aches, and sexually transmitted infections[2]. Similarly, the Daur people's use of MEPs for common health issues underscores the universal reliance on natural products for primary health care. The research also echoes the findings of a study that highlighted the historical roots of food and medicine continuum in both Eastern and Western cultures, noting that while food-medicine knowledge differs substantially across regions, traditional uses and scientific evidence can facilitate cross-cultural communication and sharing of health strategies[3]. The Daur study contributes to this global dialogue by documenting and validating the traditional knowledge of MEPs, which can be integrated into broader health and nutritional practices. Furthermore, the study's focus on the sustainable development of MEPs is crucial given the increasing burden on arable land to meet nutritional demands and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases due to poor nutrition[4]. By promoting the use of traditional medicinal plants, the study supports the development of more nutritious crops and better health outcomes, aligning with the call for intensified collaboration between plant and medical research to improve our understanding of bioactivities. The potential of MEPs to modulate gut microbiota and improve health outcomes is another area of interest. Previous research has shown that medicinal botanicals can modulate gut microbiota, suggesting their use as an alternative approach to treat diseases such as cancer and gastrointestinal disorders[5]. The Daur study's identification of MEPs targeting digestive health further supports the potential for these plants to contribute to gut health and overall well-being. In conclusion, the study conducted by the Inner Mongolia Traditional Chinese & Mongolian Medical Research Institute provides valuable insights into the ethnobotanical knowledge of the Daur people and underscores the importance of preserving and promoting this knowledge for sustainable development and modern health care applications. By documenting the rich phytochemical diversity of traditional Daur medicine, the study paves the way for future research and the integration of these valuable resources into contemporary health and nutritional practices.

HerbsMedicinePlant Science


Main Study

1) An ethnobotanical survey on the medicinal and edible plants used by the Daur people in China.

Published 24th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Ethnobotanical survey of food and medicinal plants of the Ilkisonko Maasai community in Kenya.

3) 'Food and medicine continuum' in the East and West: Old tradition and current regulation.

4) Diversity: current and prospective secondary metabolites for nutrition and medicine.

5) A Review of the Effects of Natural Compounds, Medicinal Plants, and Mushrooms on the Gut Microbiota in Colitis and Cancer.

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