The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method

By Lola Romanucci-Ross; Daniel E. Moerman et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

11
PHYSIOLOGY AND SYMBOLS: THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE PLACEBO EFFECT

DANIEL E. MOERMAN

How can we account for the effectiveness of non-Western medical treatment? What can we learn about the effectiveness of Western healing through comparative study? One of the foremost dilemmas in ethnomedicine is understanding how it is that the manipulations of the shaman or healer actually influence the physiological state of the patient. Many studies, including several of my own, have devoted much energy to the study of the effectiveness of native pharmacology. The standard exercise is to show that pharmaceuticals in use have "appropriate" physiological impact. And many tribal peoples cooperate with this exercise by having enormous pharmacopoeias at their disposal. Wyman and Harris ( 1941) reported 515 species of medicinal plants for the Navaho alone. My compilation of native American medicinal plants includes 2,865 different plant species from 941 genera used by 219 different cultures in 25,025 different ways (Moerman in press). In a lessstandard exercise, comparing those medicinally used plants with available plants, I have been able to demonstrate substantial selectivity among families by Native Americans. The three most heavily utilized families ( Asteraceae, Rosaceae, Lamiaceae) account for 26 percent of medicinal items in my compilation, but only 18 percent of the 21,641 species of plants in North America ( Kartesz 1994). The three least heavily used families, in terms of their availability ( Poaceae, Cyperaceae and Fabaceae) account for 4 percent of items in my list, but 18 percent of the species in FNA (for details of this argument, see Chapter 4 of this volume, "Poisoned Apples and Honeysuckle"). But we can also be certain that neither native therapists nor their patients saw pharmaceuticals as any more important in therapy than the song, dance, and din that accompanied treatment. While several investigators (most notably Victor Turner) have provided brilliant symbolic analyses of

-240-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 400

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?