North Peru ProjectS is centered around providing opportunities for students to contribute to human knowledge with their research. From biochemistry to medical anthropology, this project's main goal is to make a difference THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF academic research. 


BACKGROUND. 


Dr. Tom Love discusses a possible field work site and medicinal plant supply chain with community leaders in Huamachuco, Peru. 

Dr. Tom Love discusses a possible field work site and medicinal plant supply chain with community leaders in Huamachuco, Peru. 

Since 2002, on grants from the US National Institutes of Health (Minority Health & Health Disparities International Research, MHIRT), North Peru Projects has been involved in ethnobotanical, biochemical, and ethnographic research in the field and laboratory. Publications include:

  •  A database of 510 medicinal plants and 974 remedies of mixtures. (1-2) 
  • Demonstration that herbal commerce in Peru is a major economic resource, which, although used alongside modern pharmaceutical products, is showing signs of diminished popular knowledge of application. (3-4)
  • Laboratory research:
    •  Minimum inhibition concentrations and toxicity screening (5)
    • Bioassays to determine antibacterial activity (6)
    • Phytochemical analyses (7)
    • Herbal treatments for acne (8), malaria (9), kidney problems, and urinary infections.(10)
  • Studies seeking to identify Ulluchu, a ceremonial plant of the pre-Hispanic Moche culture as well as surveying colonial sources of medicinal plants in Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador. (11-12)
  • An ethnography of peasant herbalists documenting aspects of the market supply chain which showed that suppliers are not adequately remunerated and revealed threats posed by lack of conservation measures and overharvesting.(13)
  • A critique of the scientific reductionism of laboratory research used  in attempting to verify traditional remedies.(14)
  • An ethnography on the work of the Peruvian National Commission Against Biopiracy.(15)
  • Anthropological studies of traditional curanderos and their curing altars (mesas).(16)
The Summer 2014 Research Team after presenting their research to biology, biochemistry, pre-medical, and pharmacology students at the National University of Trujillo (UNT). 

The Summer 2014 Research Team after presenting their research to biology, biochemistry, pre-medical, and pharmacology students at the National University of Trujillo (UNT). 

It is worth noting that during the time we have been working in the Trujillo region there have been changes in attitudes and perceptions regarding Traditional Medicine. (17) In Trujillo, Lima and Arequipa, Peru´s social security administration (EsSalud) inaugurated its National Program for Complementary Medicine, including a pilot program prescribing medicinal plants validated by WHO/PAHO. This initiative began in 1999 with the three centers mentioned above and has now grown to 26.(18)

In Trujillo, MHIRT and the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) Sacred Seeds program started an herbal garden and educational outreach program at the site museum of the pre-Hispanic Chimú city of Chan Chan. And University of Trujillo (UNT) botanists compiled a volume of 704 medicinal plants, including taxonomy, ecogeography, and ethnobotany. (19)

In Huamachuco – a highland city east of Trujillo – a program of ethnobotany and conservation is slowly emerging through collaboration between  local peasant communities, MOBOT’s Sacred Seeds program, MHIRT, and the Peace Corps. Future work will involve developing a supply chain between Huamachuco and EsSalud´s Complementary Medicine Center (CAMEC) in Trujillo with scientific validation by MOBOT, UNT, and the University at Buffalo (SUNY).

An updated overview of our work placed in global context is provided by Dr. Rainer Bussmann in Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnobotany 2013. (20)


FOOTNOTES. 

[1] Bussmann and Sharon (2006b, 2007b, 2009c, 2015)

[2] Bussmann, Glenn, Meyer, Kuhlman, and Townesmith (2010)

[3] Bussmann, Sharon, Vandebroek, Jones, and Revene (2007)

[4] Bussmann, Sharon, and Lopez (2007); Bussmann, Sharon, and Garcia (2009); Fajardo and Sours (2012); Gauksheim et al (2013)

[5] Bussmann, Malca et al. (2010)

[6] Bussmann, Sharon et al. (2008); Bussmann, Glenn et al. (2009a); Bussmann, Glenn et al. (2010)

[7] Bussmann, Glenn et al. (2009b); Perez, Rodriguez et. al. (2012)

[8] Bussmann, Sharon et al. (2008)

[9] Bussmann and Glenn (2010)

[10] Bussmann and Glenn (2011)

[11] Bussmann and Sharon (2009b)

[12] Bussmann and Sharon (2009a)

[13] Revene, Bussmann, and Sharon (2008)

[14] Carrillo (2012)

[15] Smallwood (2010)

[16] Sharon (2009); Sharon and Gálvez (2009); Sharon, Glass-Coffin, and Bussmann (2009);  Glass-Coffin, Sharon, and Uceda (2004)

[17] Sánchez Garrafas, eds. (2009); Vergara and Vásquez, eds. (2009)

[18] Fernández (2009); Villar and Villavicencio (2001)

[19] Mostacero, Castillo, Mejía, Gamarra, Charcape, and Ramírez (2011)

[20]  Bussmann (2013)