Traditional medicine for animals: a new paper on ethnoveterinary medicine in Transylvania

I’m excited to announce that a paper with collaborators in Hungary has been published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. The research article, titled “Ethnoveterinary practices of Covasna County, Transylvania, Romania“, addresses the interesting topic of folk practices associated with ethnoveterinary medicine. Ethnoveterinary medicine is perhaps best described as the use of traditional medicine (using ingredients like wild herbs or even animal products) to treat the ailments of pets and livestock. The health of livestock is a key concern of communities with an economic and subsistence focus based in agriculture. In this study, 99 informants from Covasna county, Transylvania, Romania participated in interviews concerning local ethnoveterinary practices. In total, 26 wild and cultivated plants, 2 animals, and 17 other substances were documented to treat 11 ailments of cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep.

The article is freely available by Open Access, and can viewed HERE.

Abstract:

Background

Ethnoveterinary medicine is a topic of growing interest among ethnobiologists, and is integral to the agricultural practices of many ethnic groups across the globe. The ethnoveterinary pharmacopoeia is often composed of ingredients available in the local environment, and may include plants, animals and minerals, or combinations thereof, for use in treating various ailments in reared animals. The aim of this study was to survey the current day ethnoveterinary practices of ethnic Hungarian (Székely) settlements situated in the Erdővidék commune (Covasna County, Transylvania, Romania) and to compare them with earlier works on this topic in Romania and other European countries.

Methods

Data concerning ethnoveterinary practices were collected through semi-structured interviews and direct observation in 12 villages from 2010 to 2014. The cited plant species were collected, identified, dried and deposited in a herbarium. The use of other materials (e.g. animals, minerals and other substances) were also documented. Data were compared to earlier reports of ethnoveterinary knowledge in Transylvania and other European countries using various databases.

Results

In total, 26 wild and cultivated plants, 2 animals, and 17 other substances were documented to treat 11 ailments of cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep. The majority of applications were for the treatment of mastitis and skin ailments, while only a few data were reported for the treatment of cataracts, post-partum ailments and parasites. The traditional uses of Armoracia rusticana, Rumex spp., powdered sugar and glass were reported in each village. The use of some plant taxa, such as Allium sativum, Aristolochia clematitis, and Euphorbia amygdaloides was similar to earlier reports from other Transylvanian regions.

Conclusions

Although permanent veterinary and medical services are available in some of the villages, elderly people preferred the use of wild and cultivated plants, animals and other materials in ethnoveterinary medicine. Some traditional ethnoveterinary practices are no longer in use, but rather persist only in the memories of the eldest subset of the population. A decline in the vertical transmission of ethnoveterinary knowledge was evident and loss of practice is likely compounded by market availability of ready-made pharmaceuticals.

Keywords:

Veterinary medicine; Traditional knowledge; Livestock; Székelys; Covasna

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