Planta Med 2011; 77 - PF57
DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1282445

Ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology of the genus Veratrum L. in veterinary medicine (Bosnia and Herzegovina, W. Balkan)

S Redzic 1, J Ferrier 2
  • 1Dept. of Biology, Fac. of Sci. Univ. Sarajevo, 33–35 Zmaja od Bosne St., 71 000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • 2Dept. of Biology, 30 Marie Curie, Gendron Hall, Rm. 283, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada

Genus Veratrum L. (Liliaceae) in flora of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is represented with three taxa – white hellebore Veratrum album L., black hellebore Veratrum nigrum L. and green hellebore Veratrum lobelianum Bernh. White and green hellebore grows on mountain meadows, and black hellebore grows in strap of termofille oak-hornbeam forests.

During ethno-botanical researches on area of BiH [1], determined was that white hellebore in some areas has been used in human traditional medicine. However, it is still actively used in traditional veterinarian medicine in mountain areas of BiH in places rich in cattle breeds (sheep, goats, cows and horses).

Using method of ethno-botanical interview of over 86 informants, 20 of them confirmed use of underground parts of this plant (Veratri rhizoma) in treatment of skin diseases caused with parasites, as well as for removal of parasites. Rhizome is dug during vegetation periods, cook and use in preparation of a special form of mild decoction. Decoction is used cold to wash sheep and goats, occasionally cows. This preparation is used only externally, with special attention to keep it away from eyes.

In same manner is used rhizome of black hellebore Veratri nigrae rhizoma in warmer areas (sub-Mediterranean and Mediterranean). In the past, this was the only way to treat skin parasites with domestic animals. Rhizome and leaves of Veratrum album contain wide spectrum of steroid alkaloids [2], that effectively affects maggots of house flies [3]. In some cases it has been used in human therapy, as well.

References: 1. Redzic SS (2007) Coll Antropol 31 (3): 869–890.

2. Rahman A et al. (1996) Phytochemistry 43 (4): 907–911.

3. Bergmann ED, Zwi H, Mechoulam L, Mechoulan R (1958) Journal of Insect Physiology 2 (3): 162–177.