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Is Guaiacum Sanctum Effective Against Arthritis?

An Ethnobotany Case


Author(s)

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 Areas

Ethics

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Botany / Plant Science  |   Ecology  |  


Date Posted

01/16/04

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