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Open Access Ethnopharmacology in the work of Melville William Hilton-Simpson (1881-1938) – historical analysis and current research opportunities

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In the early 20th century, the British anthropologist Melville William Hilton-Simpson (1881-1938) did explorations in Africa, mainly the Congo region and the Aurès region in Algeria. He showed considerable interest in local medicinal practices and plants used by the natives, mainly the Algerian Berbers. He left notes, letters and publications about traditional medicine which were screened for relevant information about medicinal plant use. His reports were compared with current knowledge and recent study results. Many plants described by HiltonSimpson as therapeutically relevant could prove their efficacy in current studies which again shows that historical sources may exert some reliability. The study, however, unveiled a couple of plants reported as traditionally used, but neglected by modern science so far. These, including Marrubium supinum, Cynoglossum pictum (=C.creticum ), Sonchus maritimus, and two Erodium species, are strongly recommended to be further studied. Foresightedly, this approach was already intended by Hilton-Simpson himself.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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