Open Access

Medicinal plants used in Northern Peru for reproductive problems and female health

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine20106:30

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-6-30

Received: 1 June 2010

Accepted: 1 November 2010

Published: 1 November 2010

Abstract

Infections of the reproductive tract, complications after childbirth, and reproductive problems continue to be a major health challenge worldwide. An impressive number of plant species is traditionally used to remedy such afflictions, and some have been investigated for their efficacy with positive results. A total of 105 plant species belonging to 91 genera and 62 families were documented and identified as herbal remedies for reproductive problems in Northern Peru. Most species used were Asteraceae (9.52%), followed by Lamiaceae and Fabaceae (8.57% and 6.67%). The most important families are clearly represented very similarly to their overall importance in the local pharmacopoeia. The majority of herbal preparations for reproductive afflictions were prepared from the leaves of plants (22.72%), the whole plant (21.97%), and stems (21.21%), while other plant parts were used less frequently. More than 60% of the cases fresh plant material was used to prepare remedies. Over 70% of the remedies were applied orally, while the remaining ones were applied topically. Many remedies were prepared as mixtures of multiple ingredients.

Little scientific evidence exists to prove the efficacy of the species employed as reproductive disorder remedies in Northern Peru. Only 34% of the plants found or their congeners have been studied at all for their medicinal properties. The information gained on frequently used traditional remedies might give some leads for future targets for further analysis in order to develop new drugs.

Background

According to 1999 WHO estimates reproductive problems, including, 340 million new cases of curable Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs; syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis) occur annually throughout the world in adults aged 15-49 years. In developing countries, STIs and their complications rank in the top five disease categories for which adults seek health care. Infection with STIs can lead to acute symptoms, chronic infection and serious delayed consequences such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, cervical cancer and the untimely death of infants and adults [1].

Traditional Medicine (TM) is used globally and is rapidly growing in economic importance. In developing countries, TM is often the only accessible and affordable treatment available. The WHO reports that TM is the primary health care system for 80% of the population in developing countries. In Latin America, the WHO Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO/PAHO) reports that 71% of the population in Chile and 40% of the population in Colombia have used TM. The WHO indicates that in many Asian countries TM is widely used, even though Western medicine is often readily available, and in Japan, 60-70% of allopathic doctors prescribe TMs for their patients [2].

Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) is gaining popularity in many developed countries. Forty-two percent of the population in the US have used CAM at least once [3], and the use of at least one of 16 alternative therapies increased from 34% in 1990 to 42% in 1997 [4]. The number of visits to providers of CAM now exceeds by far the number of visits to all primary care physicians in the US [5, 6]. The expenses for the use of TM and CAM are exponentially growing in many parts of the world. The 1997 out-of-pocket CAM expenditure was estimated at US$ 2,7 billion in the USA, and the world market for herbal medicines based on traditional knowledge is now estimated at US$ 60 billion [7].

Northern Peru is believed to be the center of the Central Andean Health Axis [8], and traditional medicinal practices in this region remain an important component of everyday life [913]. TM is also gaining acceptance by national governments and health providers. Peru's National Program in Complementary Medicine and the Pan American Health Organization recently compared Complementary Medicine to allopathic medicine in clinics and hospitals operating within the Peruvian Social Security System. The results showed that the cost of using Traditional Medicine was less than the cost of Western therapy. In addition, for each of the criteria evaluated -- clinical efficacy, user satisfaction, and future risk reduction -- Traditional Medicine 's efficacy was higher than that of conventional treatments, including fewer side effects, higher perception of efficacy by both the patients and the clinics, and a 53-63% higher cost efficiency of Traditional Medicine over that of conventional treatments for the selected conditions [14]. According to [6], the sustainable cultivation and harvesting of medicinal species is one of the most important challenges for the next few years.

The present study attempts to give an overview on medicinal plant species employed in Northern Peru in traditional remedies for reproductive problems and female health, and compare this use to the western scientific evidence regarding their efficacy.

Materials and Methods

Plant Collections

Plants for the present study were collected in the field, in markets, and at the homes of traditional healers (curanderos) in Northern Peru in 10 2-3 months long field visits between 2001 and 2009, as a larger scale project following initial collections in southern Ecuador (Figure 1). The same 116 informants (healers and market vendors) in the Trujillo and Chiclayo area were repeatedly interviewed during this time, using structured questionnaires. The informants were always provided with fresh (non-dried) plant material, either collected with them, by them, or available at their market stands. The questionnaires did not include any reference as to disease concepts, plant parts or preparations. In contrast, the participants were asked simple questions along the lines "What is this plant used for, which part, which quantity, how is it prepared, are any other plants added to the mixture." All questions were asked in the same order. All informants were of Mestizo origin, and spoke only Spanish as their native language, and all interviews were conducted in Spanish. The study covered the four existing medicinal plant markets of the region, and included all vendors present. All interviews were conducted with the same set of participants. The specimens are registered under the collection series "RBU/PL," "ISA," "GER," "JULS," "EHCHL," "VFCHL," "TRUBH," and "TRUVANERICA," depending on the year of fieldwork and collection location. Surveys were conducted in Spanish by fluent speakers. Surveyors would approach healers, collectors and market vendors and explain the premise for the study, including the goal of conservation of medicinal plants in the area.
Figure 1

Location of the study area in Northern Peru.

Vouchers of all specimens were deposited at the Herbario Truxillensis (HUT, Universidad Nacional de Trujillo), and Herbario Antenor Orrego (HAO, Universidad Privada Antenor Orrego Trujillo). In order to recognize Peru's rights under the Convention on Biological Diversity, most notably with regard to the conservation of genetic resources in the framework of a study treating medicinal plants, the identification of the plant material was conducted entirely in Peru. No plant material collected either in this study in Northern Peru, or the previous study in Southern Ecuador was exported in any form whatsoever.

Species identification and nomenclature

The nomenclature of plant families, genera, and species follows the Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru [15] and the Catalogue of Vascular Plants of Ecuador [16]. The nomenclature was compared to the TROPICOS database. Species were identified using the available volumes of the Flora of Peru [17], as well as [1820], and the available volumes of the Flora of Ecuador [21].

Results

A total of 105 plant species belonging to 91 genera and 62 families were documented and identified as herbal remedies for reproductive problems in Northern Peru. Most species used were Asteraceae (9.52%), followed by Lamiaceae and Fabaceae (8.57% and 6.67%). Other families were less important, and 44 contributed only one species each to the pharmacopoeia (Table 1). The most important families are clearly represented very similarly to their overall importance in the local pharmacopoeia (Table 1) [9].
Table 1

Plants used for reproductive issues in Northern Peru and Comparison of reproductive treatments to the ten most important plant families of the medicinal flora of Northern Peru (after Bussmann & Sharon 2006)

Family

Genera

Species

%

Medicinal flora of Northern Peru (most important families)

Asteraceae

9

10

9.52

13.64

Lamiaceae

7

9

8.57

4.87

Fabaceae

6

7

6.67

6.82

Solanaceae

2

4

3.81

4.09

Poaceae

3

3

2.84

2.33

Cucurbitaceae

1

3

2.84

1.75

Plantaginaceae

1

3

2.84

 

Amaranthaceae

2

2

1.92

 

Anacardiaceae

2

2

1.92

 

Boraginaceae

2

2

1.92

 

Brassicaceae

2

2

1.92

 

Euphorbiaceae

2

2

1.92

2.33

Olacaceae

2

2

1.92

 

Rutaceae

2

2

1.92

 

Dioscoreaceae

1

2

1.92

 

Geraniaceae

1

2

1.92

 

Linaceae

1

2

1.92

 

Passifloraceae

1

2

1.92

 

Adiantaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Alstroemeriaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Amaryllidaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Apiaceae

1

1

0.95

2.14

Apocynaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Asclepiadaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Asphodelaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Balanophoraceae

1

1

0.95

 

Bignoniaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Cactaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Convolvulaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Cupressaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Cyperaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Dipsacaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Ericaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Erythroxylaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Gentianaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Illiciaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Isoetaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Krameriaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Lauraceae

1

1

0.95

 

Loganiaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Loranthaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Lythraceae

1

1

0.95

 

Malvaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Menispermaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Moraceae

1

1

0.95

 

Myristicaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Nyctaginaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Orchidaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Oxalidaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Polygonaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Polypodiaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Portulacaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Proteaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Ranunculaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Rosaceae

1

1

0.95

1.75

Rubiaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Thelypteridaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Thymeleaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Typhaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Urticaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Valerianaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Verbenaceae

1

1

0.95

 

Lycopodiaceae

0

0

0.00

1.95

TOTAL

91

105

100

 
The majority of herbal preparations for reproductive issues were prepared from the leaves of plants (22.72%), the whole plant (21.97%), and stems (21.21%), while other plant parts were used much less frequently (Table 2). This indicates that the local healers count on a very well developed knowledge about the properties of different plant parts. In almost 62% of the cases fresh plant material was used to prepare remedies, which differs little from the average herbal preparation mode in Northern Peru. Over 70% of the remedies were applied orally, while the remaining ones were applied topically. Many remedies were prepared as mixtures of multiple ingredients by boiling plant material either in water or in sugarcane spirit.
Table 2

Plant part used

Plant part

%

Species

Leaves

22.72

30

Whole plant

21.97

29

Stems

21.21

28

Flowers

9.85

13

Root

8.33

11

Seeds

6.82

9

Bark

4.55

6

Fruit

2.27

3

Latex

1.52

2

Wood

0.76

1

A complete overview of all plants encountered is given in Table 3.
Table 3

Species encountered and used in Northern Peru for reproductive problems

Family/Genus/Species

Indigenous name

Plant part used

Admin.

Use

Coll. #

ADIANTACEAE

     

Adiantum concinnum Wild. ex H.B.K.

Culantrillo del Pozo, Culantrillo

Leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Menstrual regulation

VFCHL29, TRUBH17, RBU/PL265, JULS149

AMARANTHACEAE

     

Alternanthera porrigens (Jacquin) Kuntze

Sanguinaria, Moradilla, Lancetilla

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Topical

Cleansing womb after childbirth

EHCHL142, ISA56, RBU/PL301, RBU/PL324, EHCHL93, GER117

Iresine diffusa H.B.K. ex Willd.

Paja Blanca, Sangrinaria

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Inflammation of the ovaries, Menstruation symptoms in adolescents

JULS75, ISA62

ALSTROEMERIACEAE

     

Bomarea angustifolia Benth.

Cachuljillo

Whole plant, dried

Oral

Infertility in women

ISA27

AMARYLLIDACEAE

     

Eustephia coccinea Cav.

Tumapara, Pomanpara, Puma Para, Para Para

Bark, fresh or dried

Oral

Inflammation of uterus

RBU/PL313, GER71, EHCHL68

ANACARDIACEAE

     

Mauria heterophylla H.B.K.

Shimir, Tres Hojas, Trinidad, Chacur, Ahimir, Feregreco

Leaves, fresh

1. Oral

2. Topical

1. Inflammation of uterus, Inflammation of the ovaries, Cysts, Fibroids

2. Vaginal cleansing

ISA24, JULS17, EHCHL83

Schinus molle L.

Molle, Moy

Bark and Latex, fresh

Topical

Vaginal infection

EHCHL123, JULS196, GER13

APIACEAE

     

Petroselinum crispum (Miller) A.W. Hill

Perejil

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Regulation of menstrual cycle

ISA80, EHCHL31, ISA117, RBU/PL278, JULS225

APOCYNACEAE

     

Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) Schum.

Mailchin, Maichil, Camalonga, Cabalonga

Seeds, dried

Oral

Menopause

EHCHL162, TRUVan/Erica19, JULS187, EHCHL174, GER225

ASCLEPIADACEAE

     

Sarcostemma clausum (Jacquin) Schultes

Marrajudio

Leaves, Stems, fresh

Oral

Promoting lactation in women after birth

JULS121, GER43

ASPHODELACEAE

     

Aloe vera (L.) Burm f.

Sabila, Zabila, Aloe, Hojas de Sabila, Aloe Vera

Leaves, fresh

Topcial

Vaginal inflammation, Vaginal ulcers, Vaginal cancer

JULS274, GER22, EHCHL165, VFCHL10

ASTERACEAE

     

Ambrosia peruviana Willd.

Altamisa, Marco, Artamisa, Manzanilla del Muerto, Ajenjo, Llatama Negra Malera, Llatama Roja Malera

Leaves and Stems, fresh

Topical

After birth to reduce inflamation and prevent spasms in the woman's womb

JULS108, TRUBH18, RBU/PL370, TRUBH15, JULS90, GER9, GER110

Artemisia absinthium L.

Ajenco

Whole plant, preferably Leaves and Stems, fresh

Oral

Menstrual colics, Menstration, Regulating the menstrual cycle

ISA66, RBU/PL363, GER146

Chuquiraga spinosa sp. huamanpinta C. Ezcurra

Chuquiragua, Huamanpinta

Leaves, dried

Oral

Prostate, Prostate inflammation, Sexual impotence

EHCHL168, TRUBH9, JULS276, RBU/PL373

Clibadium cf. sylvestre (Aubl.) Baill.

Flor de Novia

Flowers, Leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Topical

Before marriage

EHCHL80

Matricaria frigidum (HBK) Kunth

Manzanilla

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Topical

Inflammation of the vagina

JULS22, EHCHL1, TRUBH7

Matricaria recutita L.

Manzanillon, Agua de la Banda, Manzanilla Blanca, Manzanilla Amarga, Manzanilla

Whole plant, fresh

Topical

1. Vaginal cleansing

2. Menstrual colics

JULS192, RBU/PL306, ISA120, ISA76, GER145

Monactis flaverioides H.B.K.

Hierba del Susto (Amarillo), Malva, Mocura, Hierba del Susto, Hierba Susto

Stems and Leaves, fresh

1. Topical

2. Oral

1., 2. Vaginal cleansing

EHCHL19, RBU/PL274, TRUVan/Erica7, ISA104, ISA72

Paranephelius uniflorus Poepp. & Endl.

Pacha Rosa, Carapa de Chancho

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Oral

Inflammation of the ovaries, Uterus, Inflammation (internal female parts

EHCHL133, JULS125

Schkuhria pinnata (Lam.) Kuntze

Canchalagua, Canchalagua (Chica)

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Menstrual delay, Allergies, Menstruation

RBU/PL266, JULS42, VFCHL27, GER228

Taraxacum officinale Wiggers

Diente de Leon, Amargon

Whole plant, fresh

Topical

Ovaries

RBU/PL252, JULS150, GER62, GER189

BALANOPHORACEAE

     

Corynaea crassa Hook. F.

Huanarpo (hembra & macho)

Tuber/Root, fresh

Oral

Fertility, Sexual potency, Male impotence

JULS171, VFCHL52

BIGNONIACEAE

     

Crescentia cujete L.

Higueron

Latex from Leaf, fresh

Topical

Healing of belly button after birth

JULS164

BORAGINACEAE

     

Cordia lutea Lam.

Overo, Flor de Overo, Overal

Flowers, fresh or dried

Oral

Prostate inflammation.

ISA125, EHCHL77, JULS62, GER10

Tiquilia paronychoides (Phil.) Rich.

Flor de Arena, Paja de Lagartija, Mano de Raton

Flowers, fresh or dried

Oral

Inflammation of the ovaries

JULS154, EHCHL107, ISA58, GER20

BRASSICACEAE

     

Brassica rapa L.

Nabo

Root, fresh

Topical

Ovaries

JULS201

Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medic.

Bolsita del Pastor, Hierba del Pastor, Bolsa de Pastor

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Oral

Prostate

JULS7, VFCHL42, VFCHL12, RBU/PL257, EHCHL6

CACTACEAE

     

Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller

Tuna

Leaves, fresh

Topical

Hair loss

JULS263, GER3

CONVOLVULACEAE

     

Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lamarck

Camote

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Promoting lactation in women after giving birth

JULS120

CUCURBITACEAE

     

Cucumis dipsaceus Ehrenb.

Jaboncillo de Campo, Jaboncillo, Patito de Campo

Fruits, fresh

Topical

Hair loss (prevention), Stopping baby from breastfeeding

JULS174, GER35, JULS221

Cucurbita maxina Duch.

Zapallo

Flowers and joints of Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Preventing miscarriage

JULS272

Cucurbita moschata Duch.

Zapallo

Flowers and joints of Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Preventing miscarriage

GER32

CUPRESSACEAE

     

Cupressus lusitanica Miller

Cipre, Cipres

Whole plant, fresh

1. Oral

2. Topical

1. Vaginal hemorrhage

2. Hair loss

RBU/PL288, JULS302

CYPERACEAE

     

Oreobolos goeppingeri Sues

Hierba Chupaflor, Hierba de Suerte, Hierba del Carpintero

Leaves, dried

1. Topical

Aphrodisiac

EHCHL149, TRUVan/Erica17, EHCHL67, GER119

DIOSCOREACEAE

     

Dioscorea tambillensis Kunth

Papa Semitona

Tuber, fresh

Oral

Inflammation of ovaries

JULS283, GER140

Dioscorea trifida L.f.

Papa Madre, Papa Pacta

Tuber, fresh

1. Oral

2. Topical

1. Uterus disease and discharge, Cysts, Cancer of the Uterus, Inflammation of the ovaries, Vaginal discharge,

2. Fungus, Vaginal cleansing, Cancer of the Uterus

JULS214, EHCHL40, JULS212, GER142, JULS213

DIPSACACEAE

     

Scabiosa atropurpurea L.

Ambarina, Ambarina Negra, Flor de Ambarina

Flowers, fresh

1. Oral

2. Inhaled

Menstrual regulation

JULS100, EHCHL111, RBU/PL372, ISA50

ERICACEAE

     

Bejaria aestuans L.

Pullunrosa, Cadillo, Payama, Hierba de la Postema, Purenrosa, Rosada, Hierba del buen querer

Flowers, Leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

1. Oral

Prostate, Menstrual regulation, Inflammation of uterus, Cysts, Inflammation of ovaries, Inflammation of the womb, Uterus, Menstrual pain

VFCHL22, JULS50, EHCHL39, ISA114, ISA43, JULS234, GER121

ERYTHROXYLACEAE

     

Erythroxylon coca Lam.

Coca

Leaves, dried

Oral

Induce child birth, Strength for woman during childbirth, Helping delivery of newborn

JULS144, GER201

EUPHORBIACEAE

     

Chamaesyce hypericifolia (L.) Millspaugh

Lecherita, Lechera

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Promoting lactation in women after birth

JULS67, GER41

Manhiot esculenta Crantz

Yuca

Tuber, fresh

Oral

Vaginal infection, Vaginal discharge

GER192

FABACEAE

     

Caesalpinia spinosa (Molina) Kuntze

Tara, Talla, Chanchalagua

Seeds pods, fresh or dried

Topical

Fungus, Inflammation of ovaries, Inflammation of uterus, Inflammation of the vagina

ISA55, EHCHL27, VFCHL21, JULS255, GER143

Desmodium molliculum (H.B.K.) DC.

Pie de Perro, Pata-Perro, Pata de Perro, Chancas de Comida, Muña, Manayupa

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Topical

Inflammation of the ovaries, Inflammation of the womb

JULS41, RBU/PL268, GER135, JULS44, EHCHL109, RBU/PL256

Indigofera suffruticosa Miller

Añil

Stems, fresh

Oral

Cleaning of the woman, Expelling placenta from woman after giving birth

GER198

Inga edulis C. Martius

Huaba, Pacae, Guava, Pacai

Flowers, fresh

Topical

Hair growth

JULS168, JULS304, GER17

Inga feuillei DC.

Huaba, Pacae, Guava, Pacai

Flowers, fresh

Topical

Hair growth

JULS168, JULS304, GER17

Mimosa nothacacia Barneby

Uña de Gato de la Costa

Bark, dried

Topical

Anus cyst, Vaginal pimples, Anal pimples

JULS265, GER199

Prosopis pallida (H. & B. ex Willd.) H.B.K.

Algarrobo

Seeds, dried

Oral

Sexual potency

JULS97, GER8

GENTIANACEAE

     

Gentianella bruneotricha (Gilg.) J.S. Pringle.

Anga Macha

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Infection of the uterus, After giving birth

JULS282

GERANIACEAE

     

Pelargonium odoratisimum (L.) L'Herit.

Malva de Oro, Malva de Olor, Malva Olorosa

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Oral

Inflammation of the ovaries, Inflammation of the womb

TRUVan/Erica14, TRUBH6, EHCHL89, JULS188

Pelargonium roseum Willd.

Geranio

Flowers and Leaves, fresh

Oral

Hemorrhages, Uterus pain, Inflammation of the uterus

JULS84

ILLICIACEAE

     

Illicium verum Hook. f.

Anis Estrella

Seeds, dried

Oral

Expel residues of feces in stomach of newborn babies

JULS102

ISOETACEAE

     

Isoetes andina R. & P.

Piri Piri

Stems, fresh

Oral

Male impotence

ISA100

KRAMERIACEAE

     

Krameria lappacea (Dombey) Berdet & B. Simpson

Ratania, Raima

Leaves and Root, fresh

Oral

Inflammation of the ovaries

JULS53

LAMIACEAE

     

Lepechinia meyenii (Walpers) Epling

Salvia, Salvia Real

Whole plant, fresh or dried

1. Oral

2. Topical

1. Menstruation

2. Hair loss

RBU/PL303, VFCHL17, ISA91

Mentha spicata L.

Hierba Buena, Hierba Buena Silvestre, Menta

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Aphrodisiac

RBU/PL308, EHCHL74, RBU/PL267, JULS72, VFCHL3, JULS20, GER15, GER134, JULS20

Ocimum basilicum L.

Albaca Mistura, Albaca Negra, Albaca, Albaca Morada, Albahaca (costa)

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

1. To promote dialation of the uterus, Hasten delivery, Preventing infections related to birth, Refreshing womb, Reducing inflammation after birth

2. After birth

JULS54, EHCHL48, VFCHL13, RBU/PL284, TRUVan/Erica8, GER191

Origanum majorana L.

Mejorana

Leaves and Stems, fresh

Oral

Menstration

EHCHL88, JULS19, RBU/PL317, GER165

Origanum vulgare L.

Oregano

Leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Menstrual cramps, Menstration, Lower stomach cramps related to PMS

JULS205, GER114

Rosmarinus officinalis L.

Romero, Romero Castilla

Leaves, fresh or dried

Topical

Hair loss

RBU/PL329, ISA78, TRUBH11, EHCHL3, JULS27, VFCHL2, ISA105

Salvia discolor H.B.K.

Palmeras (Chica), Llatama, Yatama

Stems, fresh

1. Topcial

2. Oral

1. Preventing infections related to birth, Fright/Susto in children

2. Preventing infections related to birth

ISA93, ISA151(93a), ISA25

Salvia officinalis L.

Salvia

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Oral

Control and regulate menstrual cycle

JULS241

Satureja pulchella (H.B.K.) Briquet

Panizara, Panisara

Leaves, fresh or dried

Oral

Menstrual delay

GER148, JULS43

LAURACEAE

     

Persea americana Mill.

Palta

Seeds, fresh

Oral

Contraceptive, Sterilization for women only

JULS211, GER18

LINACEAE

     

Linum sativum L.

Linaza

Seeds, dried

Oral

Inflammation of the prostate

EHCHL1599

Linum usitatissimum L.

Linaza

Seeds, dried

Oral

Inflammation of the prostate

JULS185, GER139

LOGANIACEAE

     

Buddleja utilis Kraenzl.

Flor Blanca

Flowers, fresh or dried

Oral

Menstruation, Inflammation of the womb, Ovarian cysts, Inflammation of uterus

RBU/PL333, EHCHL38, ISA60, JULS155, GER136

LORANTHACEAE

     

Tristerix longibracteatus (Des.) Barlow & Wiens

Suelda con Suelda

Whole plant, dried

Oral

Vaginal discharge (white or yellow)

JULS296, GER74

LYTHRACEAE

     

Cuphea strigulosa H.B.K.

Lancetilla, Gacetilla, Sanguinaria, Gansetilla, Hierba del Toro

Leaves and Stems, fresh

Oral

Discharges

GER104, EHCHL35, VFCHL34, JULS33, ISA51, RBU/PL259, EHCHL43, JULS59, ISA53, GER147

MALVACEAE

     

Malva sylvestris L.

Malva (Chica), Malva Blanca

Leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Topical

Vaginal cleansing

VFCHL49, EHCHL29

MENISPERMACEAE

     

Abuta grandiflora (Mart.) Sand.

Abuta (male and female)

Root and Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Contraceptive

JULS88, RBU/PL312

MORACEAE

     

Brosmium rubescens Taubert

Palo Sangre, Palo de la Sangre, Ablita

Wood and Bark, fresh or dried

Oral

1. Fertility, Sexual potency

2. Haemorrhages (prevention and healing

JULS209, ISA49, EHCHL64, RBU/PL311, GER86, EHCHL62

MYRISTICACEAE

     

Myristica fragrans L.

Nuez Moscada, Ajonjoli

Seeds, dried

Oral

Fertility, Sexual potency

RBU/PL385, EHCHL155, JULS292, GER197

NYCTAGINACEAE

     

Mirabilis jalapa L.

Buenas Tardes

Root, fresh

Oral

Prostate, Pre-prostate cancer

JULS116, GER185

OLACACEAE

     

Heisteria acuminata (H. & B.) Engler

Chuchuasi, Chuchuhuasi

Bark, fresh or dried

Oral

Sexual potency

RBU/PL287, JULS138, GER164

Ximenia americana L.

Limoncillo

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Oral

Menstrual regulation

JULS184

ORCHIDACEAE

     

Aa paleacea (H.B.K.) Rchb. f.

Hierba de la Soledad, Hierba Sola

Leaves, fresh

Oral

Contraceptive, Sterilization of women

ISA141, EHCHL75

OXALIDACEAE

     

Oxalis tuberosa Molina

Oca Rosada

Tuber, fresh

Oral

Sexual potency

JULS203

PASSIFLORACEAE

     

Passiflora quardrangularis L.

Hojas de Tumbo

Leaves, fresh

Oral

Menstrual pain

EHCHL135

Passiflora sp.

Chulgan

Leaves and Stems, dried

Oral

Promoting vaginal dilation during childbirth.

JULS279

PLANTAGINACEAE

     

Plantago major L.

Llantén

Leaves, fresh

Topical

Vaginal cleansing

VFCHL50, EHCHL11, TRUVan/Erica13

Plantago sericea R. & P. var. lanuginosa Grieseb.

Pajilla Blanca

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Oral

Vaginal discharge

JULS207

Plantago sericea R. & P. subsp. sericans (Pilger) Rahn

Paja Blanca

Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Ovarian pain, Inflammation of the ovaries, Inflammation of the womb

RBU/PL335, EHCHL96

POACEAE

     

Cynodon dactylon (L.) Persoon

Grama Dulce

Stems, dried

Oral

Cysts of the ovary, Cysts of the uterus, Uterus, Fibroids, Uterus prolapse

ISA61, JULS73, ISA106, GER151

Saccharum officinarum L.

Azucar de Caña, Caña de Azucar, Caña Dulce

1. Fresh sugar

2. Stems, fresh

1. Topical

2. Oral

1. Aphrodisiac

2. Inflammation of the prostate

VFCHL4, JULS123, GER208

Triticum sativum L.

Trigo

Seeds, dried

Topical

Vaginal infection, Vaginal discharge

GER182

POLYGONACEAE

     

Rumex crispus L.

Acelga, Lengua de Vaca, Hojas de Mala Hierba

Whole plant, fresh

1. Oral

2. Topical

1. Infection of the uterus

2. Inflamation (internal woman parts), Vaginal inflammation

JULS70, EHCHL173

POLYPODIACEAE

     

Polypodium crassifolium L.

Lengua de Ciervo, Calaguala

Stems, fresh

Oral

Prostate

EHCHL71, TRUBH38, RBU/PL331, RBU/PL332, JULS52, JULS303

PORTULACACEAE

     

Portulaca villosa H.B.K.

Verdolaga

Root and Stems, fresh

Topical

Hair loss

GER171

PROTEACEAE

     

Oreocallis grandiflora (Lam.) R.Br.

Rumilanche, Bunbun, Huaminga

Leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Inflammation of the ovaries, Inflammation of uterus

EHCHL127, JULS31, ISA28, ISA70

RANUNCULACEAE

     

Laccopetalum giganteum (Wedd.) Ulbrich

Huamanripa, Pacra, Flor de Guarmarya

Leaves, fresh or dried

Oral

Fertilization (Heat Ovaries)

VFCHL53, RBU/PL321, EHCHL42, JULS284, GER162

ROSACEAE

     

Sanguisorba minor Scop.

Pimpinela, Flor de Overa

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Menstrual regulation

EHCHL117, TRUBH35, RBU/PL262, ISA57, JULS25, ISA147(103a), VFCHL20, GER170

RUBIACEAE

     

Cinchona officinalis L.

Cascarilla, Quinuagiro

Bark, dried

Oral

Fertility, Sexual potency

RBU/PL314, JULS127, ISA19, GER167

RUTACEAE

     

Ruta graveolens L.

Ruda, Ruda (Macho y Hembra), Hierba del Quinde

Whole plant, fresh

1. Oral

2. Topical

1. Abortion

2. Aphrodisiac.

ISA152, JULS1, TRUVan/Erica20, EHCHL128, VFCHL16, ISA145(108a), GER24

Pouteria lucuma (R. & P.) Kuntze.

Lucuma

Fruit, fresh

Oral

Promoting lactation on women after giving birth

JULS186

SOLANACEAE

     

Cestrum auriculatum L'Herit

Hierba Santa, Agrasejo

Leaves, fresh or dried

Topical

Preventing spasms after giving birth, Warming women

JULS166, RBU/PL281, EHCHL172, ISA122, GER174, EHCHL102

Cestrum strigilatum R. & P.

Santa María

Flowers, leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Control and regulate menstrual cycle

JULS245

Cestrum undulatum R. & P.

Santa María

Flowers, leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Control and regulate menstrual cycle

JULS246

Solanum tuberosum L.

Chuno de Papa

Tuber, dried

Oral

After childbirth complications

JULS140, JULS141

THELYPTERIDACEAE

     

Thelypteris cf. scalaris (Christ.) Alton

Helecho Macho

Whole plant, fresh or dried

Oral

Contraceptive

JULS291

THYMELEACEAE

     

Daphnopsis weberbaueri Domke

Los Cholitos, Cholitos

Seeds, dried

Oral

Infertility in women

EHCHL153, JULS137, GER216

TYPHACEAE

     

Typha angustifolia L.

Chante

Stems, dried

Oral

Prostate

ISA45

URTICACEAE

     

Pilea microphylla (L.) Lieberman

Contra Hierba

Whole plant, fresh

Oral

Prostate, Cysts

RBU/PL282, EHCHL33

VALERIANACEAE

     

Phyllactis rigida (R. & P.) Persoon

Hornamo Estrella, Siete Sabios, Valeriana Estrella, Valeriana, Hierba de la Estrella

Stems, fresh

Oral

Menopause

EHCHL163, TRUBH30, JULS57, EHCHL44, JULS46, ISA137, RBU/PL365, RBU/PL355, GER187

VERBENACEAE

     

Lantana scabiosaefolia H.B.K.

Mastrando, Mastrante

Leaves and Stems, fresh or dried

Oral

Cold of the ovaries, Menstruation, Women after childbirth to avoid colds

VFCHL51, GER6

Discussion

Little scientific evidence exists to prove the efficacy of the species employed as reproductive disorder remedies in Northern Peru. Only 34% of the plants found or their congeners have been studied at all for their medicinal properties. Aloe spp. are known to have oestrogenic activity [22, 23]. [24] reported that Artemisia spp. had effects on female health amongst the Cumash. A variety of other Asteraceae has been shown to be used against menopausal symptoms (Clibadium: [25]; Matricaria: [2628]; Taraxacum: [29, 30]. [23] found hormonal effects in Cordia sp., while [3135] reported on anti-fertility effects of Dioscorea sp. Cupressus sp. are well known abortifacients (e.g. [36]), while pumpkin seed oil showed testosterone-inhibitory effects (e.g. [23, 3739]). Chamaesyce sp. showed promise in the treatment of male infertility, while Mimosa sp. on the contrary are used to reduce spermal fertility [23, 40].

A wide range of Lamiaceae have been shown to exhibit contraceptive efficacy, and the same species are used in Peru for similar purposes (Mentha spp.: [4144]; Ocimum spp.: [4548]; Origanum majorana: [44, 49, 50]; Rosmarinus officinalis: [40]). Similar efficacy has been shown for Sanguisorba officinalis [51], and Ruta graveolens [23, 5255].

Various species of Passiflora have aphrodisiac activity [5660], and Myristica fragrans as well as Syzygium aromaticum [61, 62], and extracts of Lantana camara [63, 64] and Pilea spp. [23] fulfil the same purpose, while Portulaca oleracea showed efficacy in relieving uterine bleeding [65, 66].

Conclusions

Infections of the reproductive tract, complications after childbirth, and reproductive problems continue to be a major health challenge worldwide. An impressive number of plant species is traditionally used to remedy such afflictions, and some have been investigated for their efficacy with positive results. An often-limiting factor to these investigations is lack of comprehensive ethnobotanical data to help choose plant candidates for potency/efficacy tests. Since the plant parts utilized in preparation of the remedies are reported in this survey, it serves as an indication of species that may need further ecological assessment on their regeneration status.

The results of this study show that both indigenous and introduced species are used for the treatment of reproductive system problems. The information gained on frequently used traditional remedies might give some leads for future targets for further analysis in order to develop new drugs. However, more detailed scientific studies are desperately needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the remedies employed traditionally.

Declarations

Acknowledgements

The presented study was financed through MIRT/MHIRT (Minority Health Disparity International Research and Training) a grant from the National Institutes of Health (Fund: 54112B MHIRT Program, Grant: G0000613). Fieldwork for this project was supported through the assistance of a large number of MIRT/MHIRT students and volunteers. Thanks to all of them. None of the work would have been possible without the invaluable collaboration of Douglas Sharon and our Peruvian colleagues, especially curanderas Julia Calderón, Isabel Chinguel, and Olinda Pintado, curanderos Germán Santisteban and Leoncio Carrión, and herbalists Manuel Bejarano, Elmer Cruz, and Iván Cruz. Thanks also go to Eric Rodriguez (Herbarium Truxillense, HUT) and Abundio Sagastegui, Segundo Leiva, and Mario Zapata (Herbario Antenor Orrego, HAO) for the use of their facilities and their assistance in plant identification.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
William L. Brown Center, Missouri Botanical Garden

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.