Treating leishmaniasis in Amazonia: A review of ethnomedicinal concepts and pharmaco-chemical analysis of traditional treatments to inspire modern phytotherapies

Abstract : Ethnopharmacological relevance: Cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis are neglected tropical diseases that occur in all intertropical regions of the world. Amazonian populations have developed an abundant knowledge of the disease and its remedies. Therefore, we undertook to review traditional antileishmanial plants in Amazonia and have developed new tools to analyze this somewhat dispersed information. Material and methods: A literature review of traditional remedies for cutaneous/mucocutaneous leishmaniasis in the Amazon was conducted and the data obtained was used to calculate distribution indexes designed to highlight the most relevant uses in Amazonia. The cultural distribution index represents the distribution rate of a given taxon among different cultural groups and was calculated as the ratio of the number of groups using the taxon to the total number of groups cited. The geographical distribution index allowed us to quantify spatial distribution of a taxon's uses in Amazonia and was calculated geometrically by measuring the average distance between the points where uses have been reported and the barycenter of those points. The general distribution index was defined as an arithmetic combination of the previous two and provides information on both cultural and spatial criteria. Results: 475 use reports, concerning 291 botanical species belonging to 83 families have been gathered depicted from 29 sources. Uses concern 34 cultural groups. While the use of some taxa appears to be Pan Amazonian, some others are clearly restricted to small geographical regions. Particular attention has been paid to the recipes and beliefs surrounding treatments. Topical application of the remedies dominated the other means of administration and this deserves particular attention as the main treatments against Neotropical leishmaniasis are painful systemic injections. The data set was analyzed using the previously defined distribution indexes and the most relevant taxa were further discussed from a phytochemical and pharmacological point of view. Conclusions: The Amazonian biodiversity and cultural heritage host a fantastic amount of data whose systematic investigation should allow a better large-scale understanding of the dynamics of traditional therapies and the consequent discovery of therapeutic solutions for neglected diseases. Distribution indices are indeed powerful tools for emphasizing the most relevant treatments against a given disease and should be very useful in the meta-analysis of other regional pharmacopeia. This focus on renowned remedies that have not yet benefitted from extended laboratory studies, could stimulate future research on new treatments of natural origin for leishmaniasis.
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Guillaume Odonne, Emeline Houel, Geneviève Bourdy, Didier Stien. Treating leishmaniasis in Amazonia: A review of ethnomedicinal concepts and pharmaco-chemical analysis of traditional treatments to inspire modern phytotherapies. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Elsevier, 2017, 199, pp.211-230. ⟨10.1016/j.jep.2017.01.048⟩. ⟨hal-01603285⟩



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