Ta'ta', Huayani: Perception of leishmaniasis and evaluation of medicinal plants used by the Chayahuita in Peru. Part II

G. Odonne, G. Bourdy, D. Castillo, Y. Estevez, A. Lancha-Tangoa, J. Alban-Castillo, E. Deharo, R. Rojas, D. Stien, M. Sauvain

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26 Scopus citations


Aim of the study: A knowledge attitude and practice study centred on leishmaniasis and its treatment was performed among the Chayahuita, an Amazonian Peruvian ethnic group living in an endemic area. This study documents traditional Chayahuita plant's use and disease concepts. Also, activty of some medicinal plants used by the Chayahuita is highlighted and discussed. Materials and methods: Ninety-three Chayahuita people were interviewed, following a semi-structured questionnaire focussed on disease knowledge and perception, personal attitude and healing practices. Simultaneously, a collection of plants was performed in different ecotopes, in order to make an extensive inventory of the pharmacopoeia. Results: For the Chayahuita, cutaneous (CL) and muco-cutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL) are considered as diseases of their own, with specific names, aetiologies, mode of transmission. Regarding CL, Chayahuita people consider that the humid characteristic of the skin ulcer is a discriminative fact orienting the diagnostic forTa'ta' (leishmaniasis). Forty-six different species were designated useful against LC and /or MCL (29 species by means of the questionnaire and 27 species when collecting in different ecotopes). Thirty-seven extracts corresponding to 31 species used medicinally were screened in vitro against Leishmania amazonensis axenic amastigotes, assessing their viability by the reduction of tetrazolium salt (MTT). Six species displayed a good activity (10 μg/ml < IC50 < 20 μg/ml): an undetermined hemi-epiphytic Clusiaceae, Cybianthus anthuriophyllus Pipoly (Myrsinaceae), two Piper, Piper sanguineispicum Trel., and Piper loretoanum Trel. (Piperaceae), Desmodium axillare Sw. DC. (Fabaceae), and Clibadium sylvestre (Aubl.) Baill. (Asteraceae). Conclusion: Perception of leishmaniasis, attitude, treatments and diet prohibitions still largely reflects traditional Chayahuita cosmovision, even if some tentative of bio-medical re-interpretation is arising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The fieldwork was granted by the IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France) and the first author received a scholarship of the University of French Guiana (UAG). The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the “Oficina de Cooperación de la Embajada de Bélgica” for funding the studies of Denis Castillo.


  • Chayahuita
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Medicinal plants
  • Peru
  • Traditional medicine


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