70 Years After Schultes: Economic Botany from the Andes to the Amazon
Bennett, Bradley C. .
Hunting, Hallucinogens and Health: The use of canine ethnoveterinary medicines by the Shuar and Quichua of Amazonian Ecuador.
Archaeological records for the presence of domesticated dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in the Americas date only to 9,000 years before present. Their relatively recent arrival from Europe and Asia belie their importance to native cultures in the Americas. The Shuar believe that dogs are gifts from Nunkui, the earth mother. Dogs may be nursed by a Shuar woman along with her own children. In many American indigenous cultures, dogs serve more than the role of a household pet - they are crucial for hunting and warfare success. For this reason native peoples in the Americas developed an ethnoveterinary pharmacopoeia to treat illnesses in their canine companions and to improve their animal's ability to track game animals. These practices are not restricted to New World cultures. For example, Macronesian peoples employ Zingiber officinale and Dendrobium spp., among others, to improve the hunting ability of dogs. Here, I describe canine ethnoveterinary plants used by two cultures from Amazonian Ecuador, Shuar and lowland Quichua. Both peoples practice horticulture and supplement their diets through hunting and fishing. These native Ecuadorian cultures use seven species specifically to treat dogs including Anthurium eminens and Anthurium gracile to kill botfly larvae, Caladium bicolor and Ficus insipida as anthelmentics, and Casearia commersoniana to cure mange. Fifteen species are used to improve the hunting ability of dogs. These species include Fittonia albivenis, Alternanthera bettzichiana, Tabernaemontana sananho, and Caladium schomburkii. Of even more interest, both cultures give sacred psychoactive plants to their hunting dogs: Brugmansia spp., Osteophloeum platyspermum, Virola duckei, and Ilex guayusa. The latter is a potent stimulant, due to the methyl xanthine alkaloid caffeine. The former species are employed as shamanic hallucinogens due to their dimethyltryptamine or tropane alkaloids. The effects of hallucinogens on hunting dogs has not been studied. Shamans, under the influence of hallucinogens, experience enhanced auditory and olfactory perception. The same mechanisms may act in canines but a definitive answer will require controlled studies.
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1 - Florida International University, Biological Sciences, Miami, FL, 33199, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Maryland Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 4:15 PM