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Ethnobotanical uses of wild taxa as galactagogues in Sicily (Italy)

  • Autori: Geraci, A., Polizzano, V., Schicchi, R
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2018
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Parole Chiave: Breastfeeding; Ethnobotanical investigations; Galactagogue plants; Madonie territory; Phytoestrogens;
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Breastfeeding furnishes optimal nutrition, immune support, and a multitude of health benefits to mothers and newborns. Since ancient times plants have been employed as galactagogues in the folk medicine of many human cultures. In Sicily, a region with great floristic diversity in the Mediterranean area, where a conspicuous pool of species is traditionally used for food and aromatic, cosmetic, handicraft, agricultural, forestry, and medicinal purposes, some people recognize the galactagogue properties of some spontaneous plants. The goal of this study was to identify wild plants with galactagogue properties and vegetable-food remedies traditionally used by women during breastfeeding to increase milk production. It was conducted in the Madonie territory (province of Palermo) by interviewing a sample of 105 people that was divided into three age groups. Ethnobotanical investigations revealed a total of 34 species, belonging to 11 families and 25 genera, used as galactagogues. For each taxon, the parts used, the methods of preparation, and the phytochemical profiles according to the literature were reported. The most represented family was Asteraceae, with 12 genera and 17 species, the majority of which contained latex. The most frequently used parts of the galactagogue plants were leaves (69%) that were mainly eaten as cooked vegetables, raw in salads, or utilized as an infusion tea. The species cited in this study are mainly wild traditional vegetables with high nutritional profiles that could improve the quality and the quantity of the milk produced. The study found that older people represent a precious source of information to help younger people preserve the cultural identity of the territory.