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
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.
The controversy over the proposed banning large-sized soft drinks in New York City has also sparked interest among consumers over whether all sweeteners are created equal. In particular, are the replacement sweeteners like Sweet’N Low or Spenda better than consuming real sugar? The New York Times recently addressed this issue, with the ultimate conclusion: “Eat and drink less sweet stuff.”
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.
The state of health in America is not identical from region to region or state to state, with even significant differences evident at a county by county level.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, has used data visualization methods to integrate global health data with maps to demonstrate regional differences in health status.
For example, they provide the following comparisons:
Additional visualizations are available on the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s website.
Much health-related advice that circulates through public (and particularly media) sources emphasizes the need to attain a certain quantity of specific nutrients each day. For example, Vitamin C, iron, sodium, and calcium all have dietary reference intakes (RDIs) that set a minimum daily threshold according to RDA guidelines.
But does consuming a specific quantity per day matter, and how does the source of that nutrient come into play? NPR’s Amy Standen investigated whether added fiber, particularly that added into foods traditionally not providing a significant source of fiber such as children’s cereal, truly has substantial health benefits.
The story can be accessed on NPR’s website in print or audio format.
A joint Georgia Tech and Emory University study released in the January issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging utilized 3-D echocardiography images to develop an advanced method for predicting the severity of tricuspid valve leakage. Not only do the study’s findings offer a new way for cardiologists to more accurately diagnose tricuspid regurgitation, but it also provided insight into ways to improve surgical repair procedures to improve long-term patient outcomes.
For a full description of the study, view this description that includes commentary by the Emory and Georgia Tech research team.
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”.
Lisa DuPree, a Predictive Health Educator, offers some great health advice for the new year! Visit this link at the Emory Center for Health Discovery and Well Being to read the full post.