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Is Guaiacum Sanctum Effective Against Arthritis?

An Ethnobotany Case



Co Authors:

Eric Ribbens
Department of Biological Sciences
Western Illinois University
E-Ribbens@wiu.edu

Barbra Burdett
Biology, Anthropology
Lincoln College
bburdett@lincolncollege.edu

Angela Green
Department of Biological Sciences
Western Illinois University

Abstract:

Dr. Beth Tonoany, a tropical population ecologist, is studying an unusual tree, Guaiacum sanctum, in the tropical forests of Central America. Interestingly, several local Ticos have told her that they use the tree for medicinal purposes. Students read the case and then answer questions designed to explore the process of screening and testing the medicinal value of plants identified as having potential health benefits. This case can be used in an introductory biology course, an introductory botany course, or any course which encounters ethnobotany as a component, such as a tropical biology course or a plant ecology course.

Objectives:
  • To encourage students to think about the lengthy process required before a drug can be made available in Western medicine.
  • To give students practice in designing experiments and analyzing data.
  • To force students to consider the implications of somewhat ambiguous results and side effects in medicine.
Keywords: Ethnobotany; experimental design; guaiacum sanctum; guayacan; lignum vitae; lignumvitae; medicinal plants; rheumatoid arthritis; tropics; Central America; Ticos
Topical Area: Ethics
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Botany / Plant Science   Ecology  
Date Posted: 01/16/04
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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