Ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological study in the practice of midwifery in pastoral Iran
In this study the ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological features of twenty medicinal plants native to Iran were investigated. Midwives in pastoral communities across the world are very important as main health care providers, but few researches have recognized the therapeutic plants engaged in this age-old practice. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 5 midwives in 12 pastoral communities near Kermanshah, Iran, concerning the plants they utilize during child delivery as well as pregnancy. Twenty different plant species used to treat 5 conditions happening during the pregnancy, birth and postpartum stages were recorded. Most plants and uses were reported by only one or two midwives. It is interesting to mention that most midwives in this area had emigrated from different parts of the country. Approximately all the midwives used or knew of plant remedies for the treatment of miscarriages, postpartum abdominal pain and hemorrhages, retained placenta, and for speeding up contractions during labor. The most commonly cited plants as well as those for which there was greatest consensus tended to be widespread cultivated or wild species. Although use of medicinal plants by midwives has been reduced as a result of retraining programs by government health centers, midwives' knowledge of medicinal plants may provide an important resource for improving maternal-infant health in Iran and elsewhere.
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