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Author Notes:

Corresponding author: Cassandra L Quave.

CQ carried out the field research, analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript.

BB and AP participated in the design of the study, taxonomic identification of botanic species, and helped to revise the manuscript.

We thank the many volunteers who assisted in the undertaking of this study. We thank Dr. Carmine Colacino for his assistance in the taxonomic identification of some plant specimens. We especially thank all of the study participants who graciously shared a wealth of knowledge regarding the traditional medical practices of their communities.

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.


Research Funding:

Funding for this study was provided by: NIH/NCCAM 1F31AT004288-01A1 (PI: C.L. Quave), Botany in Action, Anne Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany, USDA CSREES 20053842215940 and NIH/NCAAM 1T32AT01060-01 (PI: B.C. Bennett).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Pharmacology & Pharmacy
  • Dermatology

Dermatological remedies in the traditional pharmacopoeia of Vulture-Alto Bradano, inland southern Italy


Journal Title:

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine


Volume 4


, Pages 5-5

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background: Dermatological remedies make up at least one-third of the traditional pharmacopoeia in southern Italy. The identification of folk remedies for the skin is important both for the preservation of traditional medical knowledge and in the search for novel antimicrobial agents in the treatment of skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI). Our goal is to document traditional remedies from botanical, animal, mineral and industrial sources for the topical treatment of skin ailments. In addition to SSTI remedies for humans, we also discuss certain ethnoveterinary applications. Methods: Field research was conducted in ten communities in the Vulture-Alto Bradano area of the Basilicata province, southern Italy. We randomly sampled 112 interviewees, stratified by age and gender. After obtaining prior informed consent, we collected data through semi-structured interviews, participant-observation, and small focus groups techniques. Voucher specimens of all cited botanic species were deposited at FTG and HLUC herbaria located in the US and Italy. Results: We report the preparation and topical application of 116 remedies derived from 38 plant species. Remedies are used to treat laceration, burn wound, wart, inflammation, rash, dental abscess, furuncle, dermatitis, and other conditions. The pharmacopoeia also includes 49 animal remedies derived from sources such as pigs, slugs, and humans. Ethnoveterinary medicine, which incorporates both animal and plant derived remedies, is addressed. We also examine the recent decline in knowledge regarding the dermatological pharmacopoeia. Conclusion: The traditional dermatological pharmacopoeia of Vulture-Alto Bradano is based on a dynamic folk medical construct of natural and spiritual illness and healing. Remedies are used to treat more than 45 skin and soft tissue conditions of both humans and animals. Of the total 165 remedies reported, 110 have never before been published in the mainland southern Italian ethnomedical literature.

Copyright information:

© 2008 Quave et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).

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