2015: Shifting Our Focus to Medical Anthropology.

From inception to 2015, the major focus of MHIRT-Peru has been on the biochemistry of medicinal plant mixtures. Using our databases of individual plants and plant combinations, we began with two-plant remedies. Most experiments confirmed prior findings regarding anibacterial activity and toxicity. However, phytochemistry is the area in which we have made little progress. In 2013, although we isolated what appeared to be a new molecule, we were unable to identify it. Subsequent efforts in 2014 and 2016 were unsuccessful in replicating the work from the 2013.

In 2015 we concentrated for the first time on medical anthropology surveys in local communities. We are seeking to complement the phytochemical investigations with ethnographic data on local people’s understandings and uses of medicinal plants to determine the persistence of medicinal plant knowledge and usage in various communities in the region, including the nearby communities of Moche and Huanchaco. Results of this survey have been presented (here) and in the review piece shown at the end of the Bibliography. In the near future we will be comparing what we learned from this later work with the earlier work in three Trujillo clinics (conventional, herbal, and complementary) in an effort to support EsSalud´s innovative phytotherapy program.

We considered launching an ethnographic field school focused on a survey of medicinal plant knowledge and use in traditional communities in the mid- and upper Moche valley. In 2018 we completed a trial effort in the community of Jesus Maria, utilizing the freelisting method from cognitive anthropology, This will be a tuition-based program meant to complement a similar program in archaeology and community development out of the University of North Carolina, which has been running under the direction of Dr. Brian Billman and Alicia Boswell (PhC) in the Trujillo area since 1998. For information on our possible new program, please contact Dr. Douglas Sharon at sharon.douglas0@gmail.com.

Wizard of the Four Winds: A Shaman's Story (2015) by Douglas Sharon is again in print!  Find it on www.amazon.com.