Friday, 13 February 2009

Ethnomedica "Remembered Remedies"

Ethnomedica "Remembered Remedies" is an RBG Kew-based project which aims to collect, archive and disseminate oral history data about tradtional medicinal plant uses within the British Isles.

What this actually means is that a nationwide network of volunteer collectors such as myself spend time speaking to people in their local community to learn about how plants were once used, and even how they continue to be used.

Collection can be done in a number of ways. All collectors are trained to conduct oral history interviews and may speak to their friends and neighbours, or even visit local community centres or residential homes. Collection can also be done using an Ethnomedica 'Remedy Card'. These cards may be on display in museums, gardens or other relevant institutions and can be filled in by visitors. They are then collected, the data recorded and the remedies we find out about are often put on display for the benefit of others.

The importance of this project is clear. Everyday more of this priceless information is lost as younger generations fail to learn this knowledge from their parents and grandparents. After so many years of hype about the exotic medical systems of jungles and rainforests around the world, it is suddenly apparent that we are losing the secrets of our own back yard!

To me this project is essential, but because it struggles due to a lack of funding and the obvious pitfalls of a largely volunteer-driven enterprise, I am keen to support and promote it in any way I can. I will therefore be sharing with you, now and again, some of the more fascinating remedies I have collected on behalf of the Ethnomedica project.


If you know any traditional plant remedies passed on to you by family or friends I would love to hear from you. Please use the link below to access the contributions page. All memories are of interest. Whether it be dock leaves for nettles stings or honey and lemon for a sore throat, please pass on your knowledge now.

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