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Front. Pharmacol. | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00295

Botanical provenance of traditional medicines from Carpathian Mountains at the Ukrainian-Polish border

Weronika Kozlowska1,  Charles Wagner2, 3, Erin M. Moore2, 4,  Adam Matkowski1 and  Slavko Komarnytsky2, 3, 5*
  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Wroclaw Medical University, Poland
  • 2Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University, United States
  • 3Plant Biology, North Carolina State University, United States
  • 4Catawba College, United States
  • 5Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University, United States

Plants were an essential part of foraging for food and health, and for centuries remained the only medicines available to people from the remote mountain regions. Their correct botanical provenance is an essential basis for understanding the ethnic cultures, as well as for chemical identification of the novel bioactive molecules with therapeutic effects. This work describes the use of herbal medicines in the Beskid mountain ranges located south of Krakow and Lviv, two influential medieval centers of apothecary tradition in the region. Local botanical remedies shared by Boyko, Lemko, and Gorale ethnic groups were a part of the medieval European system of medicine, used according to their Dioscoridean and Galenic qualities. Within the context of ethnic plant medicine and botanical classification, this review identified strong preferences for local use of St John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum L.), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium L.), garlic (Allium sativum L.), gentian (Gentiana lutea L.), lovage (Levisticum officinale W.D.J. Koch), and lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor L.). While Ukrainian ethnic groups favored the use of guilder-rose (Viburnum opulus L.) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.), Polish inhabitants especially valued angelica (Angelica archangelica L.) and carline thistle (Carlina acaulis L.). The region also holds a strong potential for collection, cultivation, and manufacture of medicinal plants and plant-based natural specialty ingredients for the food, health and cosmetic industries, in part due to high degree of biodiversity and ecological preservation. Many of these products, including whole food nutritional supplements, will soon complement conventional medicines in prevention and treatment of diseases, while adding value to agriculture and local economies.

Keywords: Ethnobotany, Traditional knowledge, herbal texts, bioactive compounds, Functional Foods, Folk remedies

Received: 17 Dec 2017; Accepted: 14 Mar 2018.

Edited by:

Atanas G. Atanasov, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding (PAS), Poland

Reviewed by:

Kannan RR Rengasamy, Department of Biotechnology, Alagappa University, India
Víctor López, Universidad San Jorge, Spain  

Copyright: © 2018 Kozlowska, Wagner, Moore, Matkowski and Komarnytsky. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Slavko Komarnytsky, North Carolina State University, Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences, 400 Dan Allen Drive, Raleigh, United States,