Ethnopharmacological relevance Ethnopharmacology focuses on the understanding of local and indigenous use of medicines and therefore an emic approach is inevitable. Often, however, standard biomedical disease classifications are used to describe and analyse local diseases and remedies. Standard classifications might be a valid tool for cross-cultural comparisons and bioprospecting purposes but are not suitable to understand the local perception of disease and use of remedies. Different standard disease classification systems exist but their suitability for cross-cultural comparisons of ethnomedical data has never been assessed. Depending on the research focus, (I) ethnomedical, (II) cross-cultural, and (III) bioprospecting, we provide suggestions for the use of specific classification systems. Materials and methods We analyse three different standard biomedical classification systems (the International Classification of Diseases (ICD); the Economic Botany Data Collection Standard (EBDCS); and the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC)), and discuss their value for categorizing diseases of ethnomedical systems and their suitability for cross-cultural research in ethnopharmacology. Moreover, based on the biomedical uses of all approved plant derived biomedical drugs, we propose a biomedical therapy-based classification system as a guide for the discovery of drugs from ethnopharmacological sources. Results Widely used standards, such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) by the WHO and the Economic Botany Data Collection Standard (EBDCS) are either technically challenging due to a categorisation system based on clinical examinations, which are usually not possible during field research (ICD) or lack clear biomedical criteria combining disorders and medical effects in an imprecise and confusing way (EBDCS). The International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC), also accepted by the WHO, has more in common with ethnomedical reality than the ICD or the EBDCS, as the categories are designed according to patient's perceptions and are less influenced by clinical medicine. Since diagnostic tools are not required, medical ethnobotanists and ethnopharmacologists can easily classify reported symptoms and complaints with the ICPC in one of the "chapters" based on 17 body systems, psychological and social problems. Also the biomedical uses of plant-derived drugs are classifiable into 17 broad organ- and therapy-based use-categories but can easily be divided into more specific subcategories. Conclusions Depending on the research focus (I-III) we propose the following classification systems: Ethnomedicine: Ethnomedicine is culture-bound and local classifications have to be understood from an emic perspective. Consequently, the application of prefabricated, "one-size fits all" biomedical classification schemes is of limited value. Cross-cultural analysis: The ICPC is a suitable standard that can be applied but modified as required. Bioprospecting: We suggest a biomedical therapy-driven classification system with currently 17 use-categories based on biomedical uses of all approved plant derived natural product drugs.

Classifying diseases and remedies in ethnomedicine and ethnopharmacology

STAUB, PETER OSWALD;GECK, MATTHIAS SAMUEL;CASU, LAURA;LEONTI, MARCO
2015

Abstract

Ethnopharmacological relevance Ethnopharmacology focuses on the understanding of local and indigenous use of medicines and therefore an emic approach is inevitable. Often, however, standard biomedical disease classifications are used to describe and analyse local diseases and remedies. Standard classifications might be a valid tool for cross-cultural comparisons and bioprospecting purposes but are not suitable to understand the local perception of disease and use of remedies. Different standard disease classification systems exist but their suitability for cross-cultural comparisons of ethnomedical data has never been assessed. Depending on the research focus, (I) ethnomedical, (II) cross-cultural, and (III) bioprospecting, we provide suggestions for the use of specific classification systems. Materials and methods We analyse three different standard biomedical classification systems (the International Classification of Diseases (ICD); the Economic Botany Data Collection Standard (EBDCS); and the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC)), and discuss their value for categorizing diseases of ethnomedical systems and their suitability for cross-cultural research in ethnopharmacology. Moreover, based on the biomedical uses of all approved plant derived biomedical drugs, we propose a biomedical therapy-based classification system as a guide for the discovery of drugs from ethnopharmacological sources. Results Widely used standards, such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) by the WHO and the Economic Botany Data Collection Standard (EBDCS) are either technically challenging due to a categorisation system based on clinical examinations, which are usually not possible during field research (ICD) or lack clear biomedical criteria combining disorders and medical effects in an imprecise and confusing way (EBDCS). The International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC), also accepted by the WHO, has more in common with ethnomedical reality than the ICD or the EBDCS, as the categories are designed according to patient's perceptions and are less influenced by clinical medicine. Since diagnostic tools are not required, medical ethnobotanists and ethnopharmacologists can easily classify reported symptoms and complaints with the ICPC in one of the "chapters" based on 17 body systems, psychological and social problems. Also the biomedical uses of plant-derived drugs are classifiable into 17 broad organ- and therapy-based use-categories but can easily be divided into more specific subcategories. Conclusions Depending on the research focus (I-III) we propose the following classification systems: Ethnomedicine: Ethnomedicine is culture-bound and local classifications have to be understood from an emic perspective. Consequently, the application of prefabricated, "one-size fits all" biomedical classification schemes is of limited value. Cross-cultural analysis: The ICPC is a suitable standard that can be applied but modified as required. Bioprospecting: We suggest a biomedical therapy-driven classification system with currently 17 use-categories based on biomedical uses of all approved plant derived natural product drugs.
Biomedicine; Classification; Diseases; Emic/etic; Ethnomedicine; Standards; Pharmacology; Drug discovery; Pharmaceutical science
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/140874
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