Mexican Medicinal Plants a Therapeutic Resource of Physicians and Traditional Healers

Carlos Viesca Treviño, Maríablanca Ramos de Viesca


In this paper we offer a review of the relationship between Mexican physicians and the use of medicinal plants in health attention in Mexico. In this overview, we start insisting that in Prehispanic medical systems and also in the Spanish domination times (1521 -1821), medicinal plants were the main resource for medical attention The main characteristic is the tension developed between the official health attention system and the traditional one and their utilization was officially recognized. We review the most important medical texts coming from indigenous medicines and those wrote by Spanish physicians which recommended medicinal plants in their therapeutics. The changes derived from the development of the scientific method towards the experimental acquisition of knowledge are also reviewed, with the natural orientation to isolation of active principles and the justification of the employment of medicinal plants only by the pharmacological confirmation of their effects. We offer a synthetic narrative on the foundation and work of the Instituto Médico Nacional of Mexico in the turn from the 19 to the 20yth century. Also are presented the renovation of the medicinal plants studies at the Mexican National University (UNAM) and in other institutions and the tensions between popular and scientifically validated uses.


Key words: Mexican Medicinal Plats - Mexican Traditional Medicine - Pharmacological reasearch on Mexican Medicinal Plants (History) 

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