EL PAÍS hosts the América Futura section, a daily and global contribution of information on sustainable development.If you want to support our journalism please subscribe here.
One of the most ingrained customs in Paraguay is the use of medicinal herbs, known in the Guaraní language as “herbs.” Pohanana. This heritage of the region’s Aboriginal people, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has not been adequately cared for. There is a lack of scientific research and clinical studies to verify popular knowledge of healing plants that has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. They also need to be produced and distributed in a sustainable manner to turn around the country’s economy.
Paraguay has hundreds of species of medicinal plants. They have fewer side effects and are less expensive than drugs, which is why most people consume them regularly, but so few have studied them. “Traditional medicine has a great impact on health but is not given enough attention. We identify properties, benefits or toxic situations in diapers”, Derlis Ibarrola, Head of the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Chemical Sciences, National University of Asunción (FCQ-UNA), in his The office explained. For more than 30 years, the biotechnologist and pharmacist PhD has been researching the country’s medicinal plants. In 2022, he won the National Science Award for his research on the antihypertensive and diuretic effects of the root of one of the country’s medicinal plants: Nuati Pita (Solanaceae), plants of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes.
“Our society is very unthinking and important traditions are lost. For example, doctors question the use of plants in a non-analytical way”, Ibarola argues. Next to his office at the university is a laboratory where his team conducts preclinical testing on animals. The room fell silent as behavioral neuroscientist María del Carmen Hellión-Ibarrola analyzed the behavior of 30 mice fed medicinal plants.
“When we work with animals, we always follow established protocols and have to be approved by an ethics committee,” explains Ana Velázquez, a 35-year-old biomedical doctor and another researcher on the team, who published a report on an industrial chemical plant in Paraguay. Research, Jaguar Kaa (Jaguar tea), also known as carqueja. “It is commonly consumed as a digestive, and my research is to find out why. When indigestion occurs, the intestines are paralyzed, and experiments on mice have shown that by ingesting Kaa Jaguar, work faster, and traffic resumes,” he explains. The plant’s alleged hepatoprotective properties prompted her to study it. “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people has a fatty liver . It’s a silent disease that affects many people. It is important to study medicinal plants because they are more helpful than drugs and have fewer side effects,” he concludes.
Ibarola explained how difficult it was to carry out the research projects of his department: “For 20 years, we had almost no state support. What we received was from Japan, who donated equipment and chemical reagents to us.” He admitted, The situation has improved since it began receiving funding from the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) in 2015, but he believes the agency Pohanana But that’s still not enough. “There’s a lot of bureaucracy and they’re not agile processes. There should be interest because it’s also a business that works and has a good socio-economic impact, but it’s not getting the attention it deserves. Agronomic management, for example, is very inadequate,” he added.
One of researchers’ biggest concerns is that medicinal plants cannot be produced sustainably. “There are very few cultivated species, most are wild, and some are endangered. It is important to study them before they are lost,” said O’Neill, a pharmacist specializing in gastrointestinal medicine and a member of the university’s Department of Pharmacology. Olga Heinichen said.
A Walk in the Market Weed 4
Claudia is one of thousands of people who make a living economically in Paraguay. Pohanana. It’s 4am and you’ve just folded up the mattress you slept on on the sidewalk and put it in a plastic bag. He is 44 years old and although he lives in Ita, near Asunción, he spends many nights at the “paseo de los yuyos” at Mercado 4, the main municipal market. Yuyos is the name of the herb. “I collect them in the fields, wash and tie them at home, come here by bus in the afternoon to sleep, and sell them at dawn,” he explained. It was still night, and street lamps illuminated the fresh plants piled on the ground. They are sold by the dozen until six in the morning. “You have to come at dawn, and then you start retailing,” said Zuni Ferreira, a 55-year-old woman carrying three bags containing her Buy items for sale at Villa Elisa, a community about 20 minutes away.
Paseo de los yuyos is especially crowded on August 1st.today is National Day Pohanana This is its epicenter. By six in the morning, all the tables are set and lined up along Via Silvio Pettirossi. They wait for hundreds of passing drivers who can buy goods from their car windows without getting out of their cars. Today, they sell special products for the celebration, such as the traditional carrulim, a sugarcane drink -aguardiente-, rue and lemon, seven of which are said to have to be drunk to scare away the winter-August evil. For Guaranís, it takes lean cows and old men.
Patricia, 37, stayed up all night trying to find a good place. “I arrived at seven o’clock last night,” he said from behind his carefully furnished desk. He shows off the “Mix supermate” bag, which he’s ready to add to his mate. They contain a blend of orange peel, chamomile, viva saffron, saffron, lemon verbena, py, burrito, and boldo. Her nieces and her 11-year-old daughter will be here in a few moments, and they’ll be helping her sell things today. The street sellers of medicinal and refreshing plants are mostly women and are called “yuyeras”. “55 years ago, my mum and I started selling herbs on this street, we were pioneers here,” says Simona, a 73-year-old woman, who faces her day with energy. She believes in natural medicine: “When I have the flu, I boil a handful of begonias with a lot of lemon, add honey, and drink it warm.” Take an anti-inflammatory drug from the pharmacy if necessary. “But only one,” he emphasized.
“Synthetic drugs cure one thing but destroy three things,” reflects Eva, 65, the daughter of a Piri Webi farmer.your store Kids It’s located in front of Simona’s stall. He finally managed to ride it after years of being on the street. “It’s a struggle, we live day by day. The rent is 2.5 million guarani (about 300 euros). If necessary, we stop eating to pay for it”, he drinks from a natural remedy for the bronchi Said over the yerba mate tea. “Ten years ago, I had pneumonia in both lungs, and I prepared this bronchial complex, which I took every day, and I haven’t had any problems since then,” she explains, sitting in front of the store on Calle República Francesa. Leticia and Veronica, just under 30, are in the booth next door and are among the youngest people on the street. They help their mother and want to keep the business going. “It’s nice that you can help someone when they’re suffering,” they said with a laugh.
Paraguayan Trere Culture
Two streets away is Tereré Literario, a cultural space that spreads Greek culture. Pohanana Drink tereré, a traditional Yerba yerba mate tea, with crushed herbs and ice to cope with the heat. It was founded six years ago by Javier Torres, then president of the Paseo de los Yuyos Sellers and Producers Council. “Foreigners who arrive in Paraguay are invited to come here. Tereré is sharing, exchange, community,” he enthuses. You just met with the President of Paraguay, Santiago Pena. “I come directly from the Malacañang and we discussed strengthening the culture and sharing the sector Karurin “There is also Tereré, one of the seven herbs, which is drunk on August 1st to purify the blood and ward off bad energy,” he says on the planted patio in front of his house. “The plants provide oxygen and raise the temperature,” said his 7-year-old niece Kenia, who celebrated the day today. Pohanana Dressed in a red, white and blue dress in the colors of the Paraguayan flag.
Torres is the third generation of a family that has been selling herbs for decades: “About 50 families work in weed at Mercado 4. Thanks to that, I studied law,” he says.believe in trade Pohanana It has to be a social project. “By selling the weed, we can eradicate poverty in our country, which is rich in medicinal plants. We want to get more export licenses. We have to work with the state, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Commerce,” Torres said. He’s opening a new branch in a bustling shopping center in Asuncion, bringing Tereré culture where it hasn’t yet, and he has plans to develop projects abroad.
The lawyer in charge of Tereré Literario is one of those who actively fight for UNESCO to protect the planet. Pohanana, 2020 Traditional customs and knowledge in the Terere culture Purhaniana They are inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. What is missing is investment in more research and preservation of the rich Guaraní heritage.