Plant Food-Medicines: Perceptions, Traditional Uses and Health Benefits of Food Botanicals, Mushrooms, and Herbal Teas

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Foods".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 August 2021) | Viewed by 12495

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Via Torino 155, Mestre, 30172 Venice, Italy
Interests: ethnobotany; ethnobiology; ecosemiotics; biocultural diversity; Eastern Europe; post-Soviet
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Special Issue Information

The fields at the interface between food and medicine have received increasing attention in recent decades, both in historical and anthropological terms (food cultural heritage, Traditional Medicine) and also in bioscientific terms (nutraceutical, phytopharmacological, and ethnopharmacological sciences).

Better understanding the potential of plant ingredients and preparations of traditional foodways around the world, which are still partially based on local and neglected species and their complex culinary transformations, represents a crucial step for providing new insights into the field of healthy foods and "food–medicines".

We welcome explorations at the edge between the food and medical domains, such as research on health perceptions, uses, and potential benefits of neglected and underutilized species (NUS), local landraces, wild food plants (WFP), aromatic and seasoning botanicals, spices, mushrooms, plant snacks, fermented plant foods, and recreational herbal teas. A further important research domain is represented by "folk nutraceuticals", i.e., plants that have been traditionally consumed in order to improve general health or to prevent diseases, as well as plants for which food and medicinal uses co-exist, yet the used parts or methods of the preparation or consumption/administration do not overlap.    

In the past few years, local medicinal foods and herbs in different areas of the globe have been rediscovered, sometimes revitalized, and have provided and are providing important inspirations for promoting, designing, or even re-inventing healthy food products and gastronomies. Original research on traditional uses of these species and preparations, and on their impact in shaping holistic community wellbeing, germane public health/nutrition policies, and promoting sustainable food systems is particularly welcome.

Prof. Dr. Andrea Pieroni
Prof. Dr. Renata Sõukand
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • medicinal foods
  • gastronomy
  • traditional knowledge
  • ethnobotany
  • ethnopharmacology

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

15 pages, 928 KiB  
Article
Chile (Capsicum spp.) as Food-Medicine Continuum in Multiethnic Mexico
by Araceli Aguilar-Meléndez, Marco Antonio Vásquez-Dávila, Gladys Isabel Manzanero-Medina and Esther Katz
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2502; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102502 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3855
Abstract
Mexico is the center of origin and diversification of domesticated chile (Capsicum annuum L.). Chile is conceived and employed as both food and medicine in Mexico. In this context, the objective of this paper is to describe and analyze the cultural role [...] Read more.
Mexico is the center of origin and diversification of domesticated chile (Capsicum annuum L.). Chile is conceived and employed as both food and medicine in Mexico. In this context, the objective of this paper is to describe and analyze the cultural role of chile as food and as medicine for the body and soul in different cultures of Mexico. To write it, we relied on our own fieldwork and literature review. Our findings include a) the first matrix of uses of chile across 67 indigenous and Afrodescendants cultures within Mexican territory and b) the proposal of a new model of diversified uses of chile. Traditional knowledge, uses and management of chile as food and medicine form a continuum (i.e., are not separated into distinct categories). The intermingled uses of Capsicum are diversified, deeply rooted and far-reaching into the past. Most of the knowledge, uses and practices are shared throughout Mexico. On the other hand, there is knowledge and practices that only occur in local or regional cultural contexts. In order to fulfill food, medicinal or spiritual functions, native communities use wild/cultivated chile. Full article
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21 pages, 1140 KiB  
Article
The Fading Wild Plant Food–Medicines in Upper Chitral, NW Pakistan
by Muhammad Abdul Aziz, Zahid Ullah, Muhammad Adnan, Renata Sõukand and Andrea Pieroni
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2494; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102494 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3865
Abstract
The subject of food–medicines (foods ingested in order to obtain a therapeutic activity or to prevent diseases) is garnering increasing attention from both ethnobiologists and ethnopharmacologists as diet-related chronic diseases are one of the major problems resulting in a large proportion of deaths [...] Read more.
The subject of food–medicines (foods ingested in order to obtain a therapeutic activity or to prevent diseases) is garnering increasing attention from both ethnobiologists and ethnopharmacologists as diet-related chronic diseases are one of the major problems resulting in a large proportion of deaths globally, which calls for interest from the scientific community to make sensible decisions in the field of food and medicine. In this regard, the current study is an important attempt at providing baseline data for developing healthy and curative food ingredients. This study aimed at recording the culinary and medicinal uses of wild food plants (WFPs) in the remote Mastuj Valley, located at the extreme north of Chitral District, Pakistan. An ethnobotanical survey was completed via 30 in-depth semi-structured interviews with local knowledge holders to record the food and medicinal uses of WFPs in the study area. A total of 43 WFPs were recorded, most of which were used as cooked vegetables and raw snacks. Leaves were the most frequently used plant part. A remarkable proportion (81%) of use reports for the recorded wild plant taxa were quoted as food–medicines or medicinal foods, while very few were reported as either food or medicines, without any relationship between uses in these two domains. Previous ethnomedicinal studies from nearby regions have shown that most of the recorded wild plants have been used as medicines, thus supporting the findings of the current study. A literature survey revealed that many of the reported medicinal uses (33%) for the quoted WFPs were not verifiable on PubMed as they have not been studied for their respective medicinal actions. We observed that most of the plants quoted here have disappeared from the traditional food and medicinal system, which may be attributed to the invasion of the food market and the prevalence of allopathic medicine. However, knowledge of these wild plants is still alive in memory, and women are the main holders of cultural knowledge as they use it to manage the cooking and processing of WFPs. Therefore, in this context, we strongly recommend the preservation of local biocultural heritage, promoted through future development and educational programs, which could represent a timely response to the loss of cultural and traditional knowledge. Full article
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15 pages, 564 KiB  
Article
Medicines in the Kitchen: Gender Roles Shape Ethnobotanical Knowledge in Marrakshi Households
by Irene Teixidor-Toneu, Sara Elgadi, Hamza Zine, Vincent Manzanilla, Ahmed Ouhammou and Ugo D’Ambrosio
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2332; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102332 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2832
Abstract
Differences in gendered knowledge about plants are contingent on specific cultural domains. Yet the boundaries between these domains, for example food and medicine, are sometimes blurred, and it is unclear if and how gender plays a role in creating a continuum between them. [...] Read more.
Differences in gendered knowledge about plants are contingent on specific cultural domains. Yet the boundaries between these domains, for example food and medicine, are sometimes blurred, and it is unclear if and how gender plays a role in creating a continuum between them. Here, we present an in-depth evaluation of the links between gender, medicinal plant knowledge, and culinary culture in Marrakech, Morocco. We interviewed 30 women and 27 men with different socio-demographic characteristics and evaluated how gender and cooking frequency shape their food and medicinal plant knowledge. We documented 171 ethno-taxa used in Marrakshi households as food, medicine, or both, corresponding to 148 botanical taxa and three mixtures. While no clear differences appear in food plant knowledge by gender, women have a three-fold greater knowledge of medicinal plants, as well as plants with both uses as food and medicine. Women’s medicinal and food plant knowledge increases with their reported frequency of cooking, whereas the opposite trend is observed among men. Men who cook more are often single, have university-level degrees, and may be isolated from the channels of knowledge transmission. This demonstrates that the profound relations between the culinary and health domains are mediated through gender. Full article
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