Symposium “Plants in Health and Culture”

The use of medicinal plants by peoples of the Guianas

Tinde van Andel (UvA)


Medicinal plants are widely used in the Guianas (Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana), not only by indigenous tribes in the interior (for whom traditional medicine is often the only source of health care), but also by people living in urban environments. In this presentation, details are given about medicinal plant use by Carib and Arawak Indians in northwest Guyana and a general overview is presented for Suriname and French Guiana. Although theory predicts that the demand for wild plant products will decrease with increasing wellfare and access to modern health facilities, this is not the case in the Guianas. Medicinal plants are widely commercialised in the region, and the importance of  traditional healing methods for immigrants from the Guianas in the USA and Europe should not be underestimated.