Emory undergraduate Sandy Jiang recently presented the results of her summer research project at the SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Emory) research symposium. The SURE program provides research training opportunities for undergraduate students over the summer break. Sandy completed her research under the supervision of Dr. Cassandra Quave and the Center for the Study of Human Health. Sandy’s research project, entitled “A Comparison of Traditional Food and Health Strategies among Taiwanese and Chinese Immigrants in Atlanta”, examined traditional knowledge and practices related to food and health . Sandy plans to continue work on this project in the fall and submit a manuscript for publication.
Abstract from the study:
Introduction: Traditional knowledge (TK) systems can play a crucial role in local health strategies and outcomes, especially among migrant communities. The aims of this study are to (1) compare traditional knowledge and practices related to food and health of Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants in metro Atlanta; (2) evaluate how immigrants adapt to new medicinal frameworks; and (3) document the use of medicinal foods and local substitutes as they relate to human health in these communities.
Methods: Snowball sampling techniques were used to recruit 50 adult informants (≥ 18 years-old) from the Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant communities in metro Atlanta for participation in semi-structured interviews and structured surveys regarding the use of the local flora for medicinal and food purposes. Standard ethnobotanical methods were employed and prior informed consent was obtained for all study participants. Voucher specimens of quoted species were collected for deposit at the Emory University Herbarium.
Results: A total of 44 medicinal and/or “healthy” food plants were cited by informants as being central to their traditional health practices. Taiwanese were more likely to use Eastern medicine, plant their own food gardens, believe in the concepts of Yin and Yang, and use certain medicinal foods more than their Chinese counterparts.
Conclusions: TK concerning medical and nutritional practices of immigrant communities represents a fundamental aspect to the study of human health. Results from studies focused on the documentation and analysis of local health strategies can be used to facilitate better communication, bridging the gap between biomedical healthcare providers and users of Complementary and Alternative Medical (CAM) strategies in immigrant communities.
Posted in Botanical Medicine, Health Care, Nutrition, Research
Tagged botanical medicine, diet, food, health, health strategies, immigrants, Nutrition, research
Dr. Cassandra Quave is prominent member of the teaching and research team at the Center for the Study of Human Health, provides information about all things ethonobotany on her personal website, co-creator of the bio-venture start up PhytoTEK, and most recently the recipient of a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine the potential for “Extract 134″, a compound from a European tree, to aid in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant staph.
Dr. Quave, a graduate from Emory College’s programs in biology and anthropology, represents a remarkable story of a young, female scientist who isn’t willing to let life’s obstacles prevent achievement. To learn more about her research and how she was inspired to pursue a career in ethnobotany, please see her recent profile in Emory’s eScience Commons: http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2012/08/her-patient-approach-to-health-tapping.html.
A new review article in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Drs. Cassandra Quave, Manuel Pardo de Santayana, and Andrea Pieroni explores the relevance of field studies concerning traditional health practices as they relate to new and emerging trends in Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Europe. Click here to access the full open-access article.
Abstract from article: European folk medicine has a long and vibrant history, enriched with the various documented uses of local and imported plants and plant products that are often unique to specific cultures or environments. In this paper, we consider the medicoethnobotanical field studies conducted in Europe over the past two decades. We contend that these studies represent an important foundation for understanding local small-scale uses of CAM natural products and allow us to assess the potential for expansion of these into the global market. Moreover, we discuss how field studies of this nature can provide useful information to the allopathic medical community as they seek to reconcile existing and emerging CAM therapies with conventional biomedicine. This is of great importance not only for phytopharmacovigilance and managing risk of herb-drug interactions in mainstream patients that use CAM, but also for educating the medical community about ethnomedical systems and practices so that they can better serve growing migrant populations. Across Europe, the general status of this traditional medical knowledge is at risk due to acculturation trends and the urgency to document and conserve this knowledge is evident in the majority of the studies reviewed.
Dr. Cassandra Quave, CSHH Postdoctoral Fellow, has just completed a field study in NE Albania in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Pieroni, from the University of Gastronomic Sciences (Italy). The scope of the study was to investigate traditional health practices, including the use of wild plants for food and medicine, in several small Albanian and Gorani communities located in the Dinaric Alps near Mount Gjallica. Photos capturing the local agricultural, food, and health traditions can be accessed here on Dr. Quave’s website.
This spring the Center for the Study of Human Health will be offering some exciting new courses to Emory Undergrads:
- HLTH 385-000: Botanical Medicine and Health
- HLTH 385-001: Food, Health and Society
- HLTH 385-002: Contemporary Nutrition
- HLTH 410: Predictive Health Challenges – Integrative Health
Visit the Emory Course Atlas for the full list of the Spring 2012 Human Health course offerings.
A new study by CSHH postdoctoral fellow Dr. Cassandra Quave and colleagues was published this week in the journal PLoS ONE. The paper reports on the activity of a medicinal plant extract in limiting staphylococcal biofilm formation, and improving therapeutic response to several different antibiotics. Biofilms contribute to the intrinsic antibiotic resistance of staph infections and new therapies are in great demand.Visit this link to access the full paper: “Ellagic acid derivatives from Rubus ulmifolius inhibit Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation and improve response to antibiotics”.
The Center for the Study of Human Health is offering multiple courses during the Spring 2012 semester to Emory University undergraduates interested in expanding their knowledge of health. In particular, three special topics courses are being offered, providing Emory students with unique access to information that may not typically be part of a traditional degree program. The descriptions for these three courses are provided below.
- HLTH 385-000: Botanical Medicine and Health – Medical traditions based on botanical drug sources can be found in all human cultures and date back to prehistory. In this course, both ancient and modern day botanical traditions across many cultures will be discussed as they pertain to medicine. The pathways through which natural drugs are made by plants and how they affect humans will be the focus of this class. Some examples include botanical drugs for infectious disease, cancer, cardiovascular health, dental health, central nervous system function, and much more. By the end of this course, you will have a solid understanding of the major botanical drugs, including their sources, applications, and cultural relevance.
- HLTH 385-001: Food, Health and Society – Human health is intrinsically linked to dietary practices. Plants, in particular, may be used both as medicine and food, and it can often be difficult to draw a line between the two groups: food may be used as medicine and vice versa. The lens of ethnopharmacology can be used to gain an integrated biocultural perspective on foods, encompassing not only the substantive (or physical) qualities, but also the intangible (symbolic). In this course, we will explore the ways that human groups identify, collect, create, and transform foods, how they shape those into dietary behaviors, and how this influences human health. The pharmacological properties of foods will be examined and we will use case studies of dietary complexes, such as the Mediterranean diet, in order to better understand the food-medicine continuum as a determinant of health and well-being.
- HLTH 385-002: Contemporary Nutrition – The science of nutrition will be explored as it relates to individual food choices, health behaviors, and overall health, with topics including wellness, obesity, eating disorders, sports nutrition, and predictive health. Nutrients and nutritional needs will be addressed in a conventional and functional approach, covering core concepts such as macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, nutrition and health, and supplements. Additionally, we will discuss current controversies in nutrition with regard to health and wellness.
For more information about these and other courses offered by the Center, please visit the Emory Course Atlas.