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The symbolic efficacy of medicinal plants: practices, knowledge, and religious beliefs amongst the Nalu healers of Guinea-Bissau

Overview of attention for article published in Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, January 2016
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Title
The symbolic efficacy of medicinal plants: practices, knowledge, and religious beliefs amongst the Nalu healers of Guinea-Bissau
Published in
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, January 2016
DOI 10.1186/s13002-016-0095-x
Pubmed ID
Authors

Amélia Frazão-Moreira, Amélia Frazão-Moreira

Abstract

In attempting to understand how the use of medicinal plants is symbolically valued and transformed according to specific cosmologies, we gain valuable insight into the ethnopharmacologial practices, in terms of the major role played by healers, as custodians of local ethnobotanical knowledge, but also as ritual masters. Thus, the goal of this paper is to understand how medicinal plants are used differently depending on a combination between the healers' field of expertise and personal history on the one hand, and the diversified religious and symbolical frameworks on the other. This essay is based on intense ethnographical research carried out amongst the Nalu people of Guinea-Bissau. Methods included participant observation and semi-directed interviews with six locally-renown healers (four men and two women). The progress of their work and the changes operated within the sets of beliefs associated with ethnopharmacological practices were registered by means of repeated field visits. A total of 98 species and 147 uses are accounted for, as well as a description of the plant parts that were used, as well as the methods of preparation and application according to the different healers' specialized practices. At the same time, this research describes those processes based on pre-Islamic and Muslim cosmologies through which medicinal plants are accorded their value, and treatments are granted their symbolic efficiency. Medicinal plants are valued differently in the pre-Islamic medicine and in the medicine practiced by Islamic masters. The increasing relevance of Islam within this context has affected the symbolic framework of ethnopharmacological practices. Nevertheless, the endurance of those processes by which symbolic efficiency is attributed to local treatments based on plants is explained not only by the syncretic nature of African Islam, but also by the fact that patients adopt different therapeutic pathways simultaneously.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profile of 1 tweeter who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 31 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Algeria 1 3%
Unknown 30 97%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 7 23%
Student > Ph. D. Student 5 16%
Student > Bachelor 3 10%
Lecturer 2 6%
Other 2 6%
Other 7 23%
Unknown 5 16%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 6 19%
Medicine and Dentistry 3 10%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 3 10%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 2 6%
Environmental Science 2 6%
Other 6 19%
Unknown 9 29%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 1. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 19 June 2016.
All research outputs
#7,204,194
of 11,563,963 outputs
Outputs from Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
#392
of 549 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#147,024
of 269,995 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
#11
of 14 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 11,563,963 research outputs across all sources so far. This one is in the 23rd percentile – i.e., 23% of other outputs scored the same or lower than it.
So far Altmetric has tracked 549 research outputs from this source. They receive a mean Attention Score of 4.0. This one is in the 17th percentile – i.e., 17% of its peers scored the same or lower than it.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 269,995 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one is in the 35th percentile – i.e., 35% of its contemporaries scored the same or lower than it.
We're also able to compare this research output to 14 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one is in the 7th percentile – i.e., 7% of its contemporaries scored the same or lower than it.