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Caribbean Women’s Health and Transnational Ethnobotany
Economic Botany  (IF1.731),  Pub Date : 2021-09-10, DOI: 10.1007/s12231-021-09526-3
Vardeman, Ella, Vandebroek, Ina

Caribbean Women’s Health and Transnational Ethnobotany. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic (DR) and Haiti are among the top foreign–born communities in New York City (NYC). As people migrate to new countries, they bring their ethnomedical beliefs and practices, and adapt their plant pharmacopoeias. Haiti and the DR share a flora on the island of Hispaniola. In NYC, the flora is limited to what is available in the city. We selected plants for future laboratory research based on ethnobotanical data from two surveys among Dominicans in the DR and NYC, and a Haitian literature review. In both Dominican datasets, gynecological infections were the top women’s health condition treated with plants. We identified 10 species for this purpose reported by Dominicans that are also known medicines in Haitian culture, although not yet documented for women’s health. Plants for gynecological infections potentially cause dysbiosis of the vaginal microbiota, and may increase rather than prevent disease. There is a public health need to assess traditional medicines for their ability to inhibit pathogenic bacteria, while causing minimal disruption to the vaginal flora. Several species are known antibacterials, but remain to be tested for their efficacy. These results also provide a foundation for a planned ethnobotanical survey among NYC Haitian women.